Today marks the beginning Rainbow Six Siege's third year on the market and the game's third season of content. Today's update is Operation Chimera, offering two new Operators focused on biohazard containment: Lion, the drone-using police officer from the French GIGN, and Finka, a Russian Spetsnaz soldier who uses nanomachines to heal others.
As an odd addition to Rainbow Six Siege, which tend to stick closer to reality, Year 3 also begins with the new Outbreak cooperative PVE mode. Outbreak is focused around a space object that crashes in New Mexico, spawning an alien parasite and forcing the Rainbow Six team to quarantine the area. The Outbreak event will be available from March 6 to April 3, 2018.
The update is also full of a balance pass for all the Operators, new weapon and Operator skins, and several bug fixes. Rainbow Six Siege has come a long way since its December 2015 launch. Ubisoft committed to improving the game and finding out what the community really wanted. Now Rainbow Six Siege has 25 million players, regularly nets above 100,000 concurrent players on Steam, and is firmly one of the top 10 streamed game on Twitch. But with all this growth, Ubisoft has run into a consistent problem: community toxicity.
With Year 3 coming, Ubisoft has decided to step in and take a firm hand on its community.
"Starting next week, we will be implementing an improvement on the system we have been using to ban players that use racial and homophobic slurs, or hate speech, in game," Ubisoft Community Developer Craig Robinson said in a post on the Rainbow Six Siege subreddit.
"Players that receive a ban for toxicity will receive a pop-up that states their ban was the result of toxic behavior. A global message will also be displayed, similar to the current global broadcasts for cheating. This is our first step towards managing toxicity in Rainbow Six Siege, and we will have more information to share about our other plans at a later date."
This is an expansion of Ubisoft's current banning policy, with a focus on Steam and UPlay, Rainbow Six Siege's PC platforms. Some players asked for clarification on the types of speech being aimed for an another Ubisoft community representative confirmed that the publisher is looking beyond random vulgarity and trash talking.
"I mentioned this above, but we understand that it is a competitive game and there will be some degree of trash talking/swear words used. We are expecting people not to take it too far with slurs and hate speech," said Robinson in a later post.
The issue has grown as the community has expanded and the addition of the Rainbow Six Siege: Starter Edition in 2016 has only made things worse. The Starter Edition allows new players to jump into the game for cheap: $14.99 instead of $39.99 for the Standard Edition. This means players can buy multiple copies, knowing that if one account gets banned, they can switch to another. All told the problem has been the focus of a number of subreddit, official forums, and Steam Community posts.
"I probably will turn off the chat completely and start muting people as a precaution. Too bad for the communication, but the playerbase is just godawful now. And that just stops the toxic communication, not game behavior. Well, not even playing this game that much anymore, partly because of the toxicity," said Reddit user Kolppi.
"The community being a toxic wasteland is why Siege is really hard to convince others I know to buy it. Friendly-fire is somewhat a common thing I see, even in ranked (which, compared to casual, is friendlier). It is a shame that Ubisoft seems to be ignoring this problem, as they could coax more sales by addressing it. Perhaps with an in-game harassment report button (as if in-game could hopefully track things like friendly-fire and chat)," said Steam user Neville Chamberlain.
The problems of player toxicity—which to be honest is an imperfect word in terms of the overall conversation—is such a major one for Rainbow Six Siege that many players have responded positively to the change.
"People are acting like being racist and homophobic is just natural in a state of rage. It isn’t going to take a temp ban to teach people that this is not alright as a functioning adult in the real world. Thank you Ubi and Epi for clearly defining the rules and discussing them on your Twitter," said Reddit user Ponk_o_Donk.
Despite that, the community remains somewhat divided over the Ubisoft's fixes for the problem. Frequently, players against the system have pointed towards the fuzzy meaning of toxicity and freedom of speech. (There's also the normal railing against "snowflakes" and "safe spaces".)
None of this particularly changes that there is no real freedom of speech in a community controlled by a commercial or private entity. Every forum, platform, or gaming community has the right to do with its users as it pleases, outside of actions that are illegal in certain countries. Most online communities have a huge Terms of Service, allowing them to manage their spaces with impunity. Even here on USgamer, we retain the rights to moderate our comments as we see fit. The same is true of Ubisoft in terms of their game.
Some players are also acknowledging that the system doesn't go far enough in managing the community, with team-killing seen as another huge problem for Rainbow Six Siege. The reasons range from a player being unhappy with how you're working with the team, reprisals for picking their favorite Operator, or simple trolling. This remains a problem for the game, despite Ubisoft having a system in place to ban team-killing in chunks of 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 2 hours, 24 hours, and 7 days.
Managing a community is a long-term project, especially a community as large as Rainbow Six Siege's has become. As the game enters its third year, it's good that Ubisoft is trying to moderate that community, so that new players have as great an experience as veterans.