Rainbow Six Siege could become free-to-play eventually if Ubisoft solves smurfing

Game director Leroy Athanassoff supports the idea, but says it’s not his decision.

Image via Ubisoft

Rainbow Six Siege could become free-to-play at some point if game director Leroy Athanassoff has his way. He said that he’d like to tear down the price barrier for players, but the final decision is in Ubisoft’s hands. Siege also has important challenges to overcome before thinking about turning into a free game.

Athanassoff supports the transition into a free-to-play model and so do parts of the Siege team. “I think on the development team we want that at some point,” he said in an interview with PC Gamer. “We want the game to be accessible to everyone.” But ultimately, the ball is in Ubisoft’s court. “It’s a company decision,” he said.

There are more pressing matters to solve before the game considers turning free-to-play, however. “You need certain features ready to be a good and successful free-to-play game,” Athanassoff said. One of Siege‘s challenges is bulking up its anti-smurfing measures, according to the director.

The infamous practice known as “smurfing” consists of creating a new account to trick matchmaking into believing you’re a new player. The dirty tactic effectively masks one’s skill level and pits them against newer, less-experienced opponents.

Siege uses a ranked MMR system that’s highly governed by win rate. Smurf accounts can often bypass the system by deliberately losing matches, which would result in a high kill/death ratio and a low win rate. That type of unusual, nonsensical behavior can serve as an indicator of smurfing.

“What’s important for us is that we find out as soon as possible that a player is highly skilled in the things that matter,” Athanassoff said. “The problem right now is that you can play a certain amount of matches with Copper players while you’re a Diamond.”

Smurf accounts in Siege also gain access to the Newcomer Queue in matchmaking, a specific preference locked to players below level 50 with only three maps in rotation. It’s aimed at giving casual players a controlled environment to test the game and get the hang of Siege’s complex gameplay and steep learning curve. But smurfing can have a negative impact on that experience.

It’s possible that Siege will become free-to-play in the future, but the Siege team has pressing matters to solve. Even if they do, however, the decision is still in Ubisoft’s hands and it may be a while until the game can fulfill Athanassoff’s vision of being “accessible to everyone.”