How do I get more players on my RUST server?
If you ask yourself the above question, you’re in the right spot! Setting up and hosting a RUST server can take minutes and cost a little more than a latte each month.
However, it can be time-consuming and challenging to know how to populate your RUST server, not to mention build up a player base that sustains itself and stays vibrant.
Sometimes your server’s player base can come with luck, but most of the time, it requires a little bit of strategy, guided maintenance, and a dash of love.
As RUST evolves, so too do the wants and desires of the player base. New ‘Flavor of the Month’ server configurations pop up with each progressive wipe cycle, constantly changing the newest and hottest player trends.
So how do you populate your RUST server?
Read through this list of 10 tips to get more people playing on your RUST Server.
- Avoid admin abuse & accusations at all cost
- Server stability, speed, and availability
- Active, friendly, and responsive administrators
- Establish and organize a small group of regulars
- Build a community, a RUST community
- Sign up for server-listing websites
- Establish etiquette for your RUST server
- Create your brand name and design a logo
- Stand out by stepping up
- Advertise what you are
1. Avoid admin abuse & accusations at all cost
This tip is vital as it’s one of the top reasons players abandon their servers. Players burned by admin abuse are very vocal about their bad experiences on previous RUST servers.
For new players, there’s no clear indicator that the server they’ve just joined will be prone to having abusive admins, so take the extra time needed to indicate in your server description, advertisements, website, and forums that your server is the opposite.
Good admins are hyper-sensitive to these conversations as they strike up and address them head-on. The other side of the coin is to avoid abusing the admin powers absolutely.
Watch this video on YouTube for a few minutes to get a clear picture of what admin abuse is in RUST, and check out our guide to RUST Admin Abuse.
2. Server stability, speed, and availability
Ensuring that your server is stable, maintains a low ping and latency, and is available 99.9% of the time is critical to sustaining a player base.
Few game server hosts offer some method of downtime watch or protocols for restarting the system automatically. If your game server host doesn’t provide these tools, you should first request them and tell them how important they are to you.
Server speeds are often solvable by throwing money at your configurations and hardware; however, this isn’t always an option for RUST admins.
Make sure you’re hosting within your means. The server should be rated for the load you’re putting on it.
One of the most significant issues regarding server availability is keeping the server up to date. It’s important to note that not all game server hosts provide a means to automate updating your server to the latest releases.
Steam automatically updates the player’s client-side code on official updates, causing a mismatch between the game server’s hosted code. This mismatch will prevent your server from being available to your player base, so it’s essential to stay on top of news regarding the latest releases.
3. Active, friendly, and responsive administrators
For many years, the state of RUST servers has been much like the Wild West. You can find thousands of official servers, community servers, and modded servers without any authority present. However, you can also find abusive players, hackers, and exploiters.
These players are toxic and eat away at the players they come in contact with. Imagine dropping all your spare time into the game, only to have all your effort blown away by one of these players.
Again, it’s critical to have active administrators available as much as possible. If you can, provide a way for the players to notify the admins outside the game.
Set up a Discord, Twitter, or forum for them to use. Hosting and being an active administrator is hard work, but it can ultimately pay off.
4. Establish and organize a small group of regulars
If you’re starting your server up from scratch or looking to revitalize a server you’ve been running for a while, it helps to establish a small group of 5-10 people who are like-minded and willing to play as regulars.
Use player forums, and chat rooms, or try merging with other servers that look dead. Most often, you’ll find the admins are the single players on the server roster.
Take some time to talk with them. See if it’d be a good connection and extend an offer to see if you can work something out. After all, most people are looking to play with others.
Having a similar play schedule is also essential, as having more people on your server helps attract others. It doesn’t take many players to have a good time, especially if you’re playing with high-quality people!
5. Build a community, a RUST community
This seems like a no-brainer, right? Though have you ever built a community before? It takes a lot of work and relentless dedication to achieving success in this area.
It’s no easy task, and there are life lessons that you can use to help you build and sustain your game server.
- Treat people with respect
- Help out when and where you can
- Promote others to do the same
- Have fun doing it
Setting up weekly events, contests, and giveaways for your players can go a long way and create some buzz. Find creative ways to get your players to share and talk about your server with their friends and communities and reward them for doing so.
You want to be inviting to your newer players and veterans alike. Be sure to communicate with your players and respond to them in the server chat and, when possible, through verbal communication in-game. Consider setting up a voice server to sit alongside your game server.
6. Sign up for server listing websites
This tip’s mileage will vary; however, it can help get your name out there. You can also use these sites as a way to see how other servers are broadcasting and marketing themselves.
Use these sites to submit your server, advertise in their communities, and respond to forum posts and comment systems. Also, remember to check in on them from time to time.
7. Establish etiquette for your RUST server
Part of providing a solid player experience starts with communicating and understanding what is acceptable while connected to your servers.
While RUST can sometimes be a bit toxic, most players desire some degree of law and order when playing. For this reason, it’s pretty essential to establish etiquette and maintain some degree of civility within the confines of your community.
Post a synopsis of this expectation directly into your server description so that you advertise your adherence to fairness and your rule set.
8. Create your brand name and design a logo
This tip might come off as a bit goofy, especially to a first-time RUST admin opening a server, but brand recognition means a lot in both the real world and the virtual one.
People take comfort in using brands they recognize and trust; the same is true for RUST servers. This will become especially true if your community expands beyond its first server and opens a second, third, or perhaps a whole group.
If your brand gains the reputation of a solid, trustworthy server group that is consistent and free of abuse, this makes the acquisition of future server tenants that much easier. A graphic symbol, or logo, further reinforces this.
9. Stand out by stepping up
A significant difference between good and great servers comes down to the admin team’s ability to stay on top of updates, provide top-of-the-line hardware, and overall create a lag and cheater-free environment.
Always be on the lookout for ways to improve the experience you are able to provide, within reason. Let your community know in advance:
- When you need to perform regular maintenance
- Provide regular updates on wipe schedules and events
- Give the impression that you’re invested in the community
10. Advertise what you are
Just because your server uses a vanilla format doesn’t mean that there aren’t differences between your server and others. Make sure to utilize the Server Browser Tag system fully, and take a look into possibly changing some default convars, such as:
- Adding a spawnable minicopter population
- Increasing resource spawn rates
- Consider switching to modded and using some wonderful community plugins to give your server its unique edge over everyone else.
Lastly, consider our advertising program if you’re interested in advertising your RUST server, website, or products to a broad audience of RUST players, admins, and survival game enthusiasts.
Final thoughts on populating your RUST server
Know something we didn’t cover? We’d love for you to join us in Discord, and drop a line, so all the players and admins out there looking to help their servers can share and use this post for themselves.