The recent reveal of Operation Ember Rise brought about many changes to Rainbow Six Siege. But of all the changes presented by Ubisoft, the implementation of a Battle Pass is the most divisive among fans.
Siege was released in December 2015 and has been growing ever since. There’s no denying that most, if not all, of this growth is thanks to a loyal fan base that continuously played and promoted the game through word of mouth. Even the increasingly-popular Rainbow Six Pro League owes a great debt to fans, which is why so many people are feeling burned by Ubisoft’s decision to add a Battle Pass.
Monetizing a game through microtransactions like loot boxes and cosmetic items has become the norm, but a select few games have gone down the route of Fortnite’s Battle Pass. Gamers are most familiar with the Battle Pass being a part of battle royale games, which is just about as far from Siege as possible. Battle Passes are some of the more transparent forms of monetization a game can have since the fans know what they’re getting into ahead of the purchase. There’s no rolling the dice on a loot box or any of that nonsense.
A great deal of the community’s frustration seems to come from the copious amount of monetization practices that Siege already has in its core game. Looking at the different types of monetization, fans have to first buy the game in one of its many versions and possibly a Season Pass. Alpha Packs are of course optional, as well as regular cosmetic purchases, but they still rake in money for Ubisoft. As a matter of fact, Rainbow Six Siege racked up $1 billion for Ubisoft in 2018, leading the company’s revenue for the year.
Fans who are aware of the insane amount of revenue Siege generated for Ubisoft are seemingly scoffing at the idea of being pumped for more money, especially after Operation Phantom Sight signaled a new low for Siege due to the wide array of bugs and exploits. The combination of over-monetization and a broken game has left fans feeling burned by Ubisoft. It would seem that all of the goodwill Ubisoft has built up with the community is slowly being chipped away at with the implementation of the Battle Pass.
It’s also off-brand considering that other games that feature Battle Passes, like Fortnite and Apex Legends, don’t cost anything to download and make their revenue off of in-game currency. As far as fans can tell, Ubisoft has no plans of making Siege free-to-play, so it’s understandable why there’s a lot of outrage surrounding the Battle Pass. And honestly, if Ubisoft made Siege free-to-play, then fans would be angry about that move, too. Ubisoft is kind of in a catch-22 situation with the Battle Pass.
For a game built upon the shoulders of a loyal community, it doesn’t look like fans see that loyalty going both ways. There’s still time for Ubisoft to adjust its strategy but there’s always the argument that fans don’t have to buy the Battle Pass, so it’s all very nebulous at the moment. It’s understandable from both perspectives. Ubisoft is a business that needs to make money to support growth, while fans are upset by being goaded into paying more money, even though it isn’t required.
There’s really no way to form a hard-line stance on the matter since fans don’t even know what the paid version of the Battle Pass will look like in the end. For now, it’s probably best for everyone, including Ubisoft, to temper expectations and play things by ear—and open ears, at that.