Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Siege now has 20 million players Ubisoft announced yesterday, a milestone nobody saw coming two years ago. On paper at launch, Siege was arguably the least impressive release in the Rainbow Six franchise in terms of sheer content. It lacked a story or single-player campaign despite being a Tom Clancy game and the game as a whole was actually a salvage operation of another, bigger project, the "plan B" so to speak for what was originally announced as Rainbow 6: Patriots.
After internal strife, some staff turnover, and a wild change in direction, the latest Rainbow Six went from being a story based game of urban terrorism to a highly competitive 5 vs. 5 asymmetric multiplayer game with no story whatsoever. Ubisoft even charged a full $60 retail price for relatively shallow game. But it wasn't shallow at all.
Instead, Rainbow Six Siege offers what may arguably be the best competitive tactical shooter experience on the market. It's the more dynamic Counter-Strike or the a far more strategic Call of Duty. It blends skill with tactics and gear like no other shooter can, and it does it all in dynamic maps with destructible environments pitting one attacking team against one defending team, each player with a unique operator armed with entirely unique gear and gadgets. And it's incredible.
Rather uniquely for Ubisoft, Rainbow Six Siege has continuously and consistently grown in its player base and popularity despite no story, but based purely on how great of a multiplayer game it is. I can't stop playing myself on console and on PC, even playing a few rounds at the end of every stream in the evenings. It's also becoming a bit of an eSports darling.
What's especially interesting about the success of the game as of late, is that Ubisoft put a hold on content as they shifted focus to improving the stability and quality of the game experience. Dubbed "Operation Health", in May Ubisoft delayed any future map or operator add-ons (which are slow to release as is) and instead focused on redesigning the interface, improving servers, tweaking mechanics and maps, and matchmaking, etc. etc., and adding Alpha Packs which can currently only be acquired through Renown earned in-game (think loot crates for skins). That last part is a bonus but we wouldn't be surprised to see them eventually sold for R6 credits which are acquired through spending real-world money.
Operation Health was an initiative started by the development team to issue a series of fixes and upgrades with the goal of improving the overall Rainbow Six Siege experience. The team has most recently conducted public technical tests to gather information on new servers that will help improve match stability. Additionally, the aforementioned Season Three will bring two Operators from Hong Kong’s Special Duties Unit (SDU), a new Operator from Poland’s Grupa Reagowania Operacyjno-Manewrowego (GROM), a new map, and new weapons. New Operators open up new strategic possibilities and challenge players to come up with new tactics, making the start of a new season the perfect time to dive in to the action.
Still, 20 million players now have the game. That's impressive for a game that's not free-to-play.
For the latest on what's coming from Operation Health, check out Ubisoft's latest update on patch sizes and texture packs going forward.
Update: Article was corrected to accurately explain Alpha Packs.