Add Ubisoft’s Rainbow Six Siege to the list of games that seem to be doing all right, but might someday go free-to-play. Unlike my Rocket League prediction, that’s not just idle speculation, either. Game Director Leroy Athanassoff told PCGamer that “we want that at some point” — once they can figure a way to deal with smurfing.
In gaming lingo, “smurfing” is the practice of a skilled player owing a second account that he maintains at a lower ranking than his primary account. That way, the “smurf” account can demolish less-skilled players, presumably so the smurfing player can feel good about himself. A smurf will also throw games so he can maintain his lower ranking, making for an even less enjoyable experience for the other players.
Athanassoff and his team are planning to combat smurfing by using analysis of an account’s stats, such as the comparison between K/D ratio and win rate. It will probably take more than that, possibly including some harsh penalties, before Siege can check all the boxes that he wants to make it free-to-play, but it’s at least a start.
PC Gamer points out that Siege is five years old, while its relatively close cousin, five-vs.-five match based CS:GO, went six years before going free-to-play, so if Ubisoft wants to take the plunge, now might be the perfect time.