What’s Behind the Siege Freak Out?

New changes to Rainbow Six Siege have prompted community backlash

Ever since Ubisoft announced some aesthetic changes to Rainbow Six Siege, there has been significant community backlash. Announced in a brief Ubisoft dev blog, new aesthetic changes are being introduced for Year 3 Season 4, apparently in preparation for an expansion into Chinese territories for Siege. Players have taken to social media and Steam to voice their annoyances.

In order to better align with Chinese game regulations, Ubisoft is removing any skull icons/art, as well as anything related to gambling, like the slot machines in the map Club House. Also being removed is sexual content and environmental blood. The blog emphasises that there aren’t going to be any changes to the core gameplay of Siege. While it may seem like a huge overreaction for the community to review bomb the game on Steam, many feel offended that Ubisoft is willing to change anything about the game in order to accommodate Chinese regulations.

An example of some of the icon changes

Despite apparently announcing these changes in order to maintain a global version of the game, rather than creating parallel builds, an Ubisoft community manager explained on Reddit that there would still be different versions of the game eventually, but that these would be region locked. If this is the case, then what was the point of the developer’s blog post? A lack of clarity here is cause for concern.

Future region-based changes to the game have major implications for the future of Siege’s Pro League. Gamers all over the world play with each other, and making region-based changes will make it harder for them to play Siege together if significant region-based changes occur. Another community developer chimed in on Twitter, confirming that major gameplay changes in the future will be worked into the separate versions of the game. Again, if this is the case, it seems bizarre that Ubisoft would then announce global changes to icons and aesthetics. Surely it’s much harder instituting gameplay differences across regions than simple icons.

Another one of the aesthetic changes.

Many feel there is also a strong contradiction with these new changes, as slot machines on the map Club House and other gambling references will be removed from Siege, yet the game possesses the Alpha Pack system, which are at their core loot-boxes. Something doesn’t quite add up here, and it’s honestly quite head-scratching. As a regular player of Siege, I doubt these changes will be that negative long term, but at the same time it does little to instill me with much confidence in Ubisoft.

A Chinese Siege player voiced their agreement with much of the backlash on Reddit, commenting that, “we don’t want this.” They also pointed out the stupidity of removing environmental blood from a tactical shooter like Siege, a game based entirely around violence. The bulk of the community’s complaints with the announcement was that their experience of the game shouldn’t be impacted because of a country’s regulations they don’t live in. This would appear warranted if the worst-case scenario eventuates.

It’ll be interesting to keep an eye on how this develops. Much of the online negativity has been unwarranted and bordering on discriminatory and simply unnecessary, but Ubisoft needs to be careful not to alienate most of its player base. Hopefully it doesn’t set a dangerous precedent which ends up fracturing one of the more dynamic gaming communities in the world currently. You can look at the Siege Reddit page to catch up on all the announcements: https://www.reddit.com/r/Rainbow6/comments/9tuhbf/focused_feedback_changes_to_sieges_aesthetic/.