Cosmetics in competitive Rainbow Six play have been a point of contention lately. Veteran pros Niclas “Pengu” Mouritzen and Daniel “Ferral” Rotheram sparked the debate surrounding in-game cosmetics and has brought the issue back into fans’ minds.
A huge issue here seems to be the matter of in-game information being gathered and relayed. This isn’t an issue of spending enough time with the game, it’s an issue involving the fairness of a mechanic. Skins are in the game—that is a fact that cannot be changed. But, what can be changed is how those skins are allowed to be used so that players can always identify which operator they come up against—especially in competitive play.
Ferral’s initial statement makes a lot of sense. There are a good amount of skins out there that hinder player perception and therefore callouts, but Ferral extends beyond regular skins here. Where people may find fault with Ferral’s statement is the fact that he recommends all skins except Pro League skins—which are historically black, gold, and white—and Pilot Program skins. This seems suspect to some because these are items that can directly benefit professional players and organizations. The thing about these skins is that they are limited to certain operators and are fewer in number than any given operators costume closet.
As Pengu pointed out, skins are for revenue, but also, Pro League skins are often not beneficial for players in-game. The color scheme of PL skins being black, gold, and white don’t really aid players in staying hidden. Look at Mozzie’s new PL skin, it has a giant white spot on his helmet right under his nose—that can’t be good when trying to peek a corner.
Even the Pilot Program skins are obnoxiously bright with organization colors smacking players in the face. These skins also don’t change the core appearance of the operator. If you can compare something like a Showdown event skin to a PL skin, the difference is pretty clear that one of them looks more like the original operator than the other.
There is then the argument that players should be able to use the content that they pay for, but that logic is broken in a competitive environment. As many fans and players have requested, there should at least be an option to disable the use of skins in competitive scenarios.
When looking at the history of cosmetics in Pro League, fans can see that there have been cosmetic bans due to the inherent advantages they those cosmetics provided. Looking at a past version of the ESL rulebook found on Reddit, fans will see that both Twitch and Valkyrie’s elites had been banned, as well as the Wind Bastion skins. While these skins are paid content, they didn’t have a place in competitive play at the time and were handled as such, but there are many more skins in the game that can hinder players in the identification of their opponent.
The important thing to remember here is that this argument mainly weighs on competitive players. Cosmetics aren’t going to leave the consumer market. They’re most likely always going to be up for grabs and available in-game. If the solution for Pro League is to only allow Pro League skins and Pilot Program skins, then that seems like it could appease some of the pros who are weighing in on the topic.
While Ubisoft listens to professionals and the community as a whole, it ultimately gets to do whatever it wants and likely won’t be removing skins from competitive play, even if it is a wanted and needed change.