Rainbow Six Siege devs on free-to-play: "we want that at some point"

By Sam Quirke,
Rainbow Six Siege might go free-to-play at some point in the future, but not before the team can reliably combat the frowned-upon practice of smurfing. That's according to Siege's director Leroy Athanassoff, in a recent interview at the Six Invitational 2020

Attackers & Defenders

"It's a company decision", says Athanassoff of a potential free-to-play future, speaking to PC Gamer's Morgan Park.. "I think on the development team we want that at some point. We want the game to be accessible to everyone". But smurfing is a real threat to the game's balance, especially to genuine newcomers, and so Ubisoft is looking into ways to combat it first.

For those that don't know, the concept of smurfing is simple – as a high-level player, you get a new account so you can reset yourself back to a noob skill rating, and you destroy genuine beginner players in a fit of big-fish-small-pond dominance. In fairness, there are other potential reasons to do so, such as trying to exploit Battle Pass challenges and other meta-game elements in your favour. But in any case, it's a shady business that game developers are trying to stomp out. DOTA 2 managed to reset 17,000 accounts suspected of smurfing last year, while Epic and Blizzard have a low tolerance of similar practices.

The problem facing Athanassoff is that Siege's skill group is determined by MMR, which is largely determined by a player's win rate. A smurf could dodge this by tanking their MMR through losing matches intentionally. Athanassoff plans to look into more granular skill disparity in order to determine when a smurf is smurfing, but it'll be a tricky process. It remains to be seen whether Siege will take more extreme measures against using multiple accounts, such as DOTA 2's insistence that players log 100 hours on their account before they can even attempt ranked play.

Siege is entering its fifth year and still enjoys a high position in our Xbox Gameplay Chart every week. A quick look at that chart shows that there isn't exactly a pressure to go free-to-play. Minecraft, Grand Theft Auto V and Rocket League are all often up near the top of the list, and not one of those games is strictly free-to-play for all. That said, with increasing incentives to buy all sorts of cosmetics and battle passes in-game, Siege is starting to feel more like its competitors Fortnite and Apex Legends. It might be time to shift the model.

Rainbow Six Siege will soon get its Operation Void Edge update, speculated to begin in early March.
Sam Quirke
Written by Sam Quirke
Sam has been a Newshound since 2016 and is now the Editor for both TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies. He loves gaming on all devices and in all genres. He remains a stubborn Assassin's Creed and Pokémon fan.