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Rainbow Six Siege may go free-to-play someday, but first Ubisoft wants to solve smurfing.


NeoGAFs Kent Brockman

There are more ways than ever to spend money in Rainbow Six Siege. Tally up the $25-$30 annual passes, $15 premium cosmetics, paid renown boosters, seasonal paid alpha packs, $10 battle passes and it’s a lot for a game that still requires a minimum buy-in of $20. When I sat down with game director Leroy Athanassoff at the Six Invitational 2020, I was curious to know: will Siege ever go free-to-play?

To my surprise, Athanassoff told me he wants it to happen and believes that much of Siege’s development team wants it too. But Siege’s price isn’t only up to Athanassoff. “It’s a company decision. I think on the development team we want that at some point. We want the game to be accessible to everyone,” he said.

Athanassoff said taking Siege free-to-play is more complicated than adjusting a price tag. “You need certain features ready to be a good and successful free-to-play game,” he said. One of those features, Athanassoff explained, is a good solution to smurfing. Smurfing is the practice of buying a new account to reset your skill rating and play against less-skilled players.

You won’t be banned for using an alternate account in Siege either, but Athanassoff’s stance is clear: smurfing creates an unfair environment for players and should be thwarted as much as possible. Ubisoft’s team dedicated to player behavior is working on new solutions that would lessen the impact 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,” he said. “The problem right now is that you can play a certain amount of matches with Copper players while you’re a Diamond.”

Currently, Siege determines your skill group through MMR, a scoring system that's highly dictated by your win rate. Smurf accounts can easily dodge detection by purposefully losing matches and tanking their MMR. Athanassoff’s team plans to fight this by taking more stats into account and reacting to skill disparity faster. For instance, a new account with a kill/death ratio of 4 and a win rate of 0.2 would be automatically recognized as a smurf account that’s intentionally losing games.
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