Ubisoft’s Removal Of Rainbow Six: Siege Changes Was The Wrong Move

Ubisoft’s Removal Of Rainbow Six: Siege Changes Was The Wrong Move

Earlier this month, Ubisoft announced that it would make some minor aesthetic changes to Rainbow Six Siege. These included tweaks to a few gameplay icons (ie. a knife icon is changed to a fist) while removing certain assets such as a neon strip joint sign and a few blood spatters. This was done in order to conform to China’s stricter regulations as Rainbow Six Siege prepared to launch in other parts of the globe.

Ubisoft explained that this was done to make things easier for their development team. Even though these tweaks affect all players, more changes will still be made for a Chinese version of the game. Additionally, the data centers for this branch would be locked, preventing players in those parts from interacting with the current player base.

All these changes seemed minuscule, and none affected the gameplay in any way. No big deal, right? Wrong.

Rainbow Six Siege Steam

Rainbow Bombing

What followed was a mass revolt by a very vocal subset of Rainbow Six Siege’s player base. Thousands of negative reviews piled up on the game’s Steam store page after the announcement. People even broke their game discs in protest. To these angry customers, Ubisoft committed a cardinal sin, and responses included:

  • “They are censoring the game!”
  • “This is not right! What about freedom of speech?”
  • “They are in bed with China, an authoritarian regime!”
  • “Ubisoft is caving in to the demands of terrible governments! They are kowtowing to the Chinese!”
  • “I’m from <insert Western country here>, I should not be subject to the rules of a dictatorship!”
  • “What’s next? Are they going to remove more operators just so they can conform to future dictatorship laws?”

Players who tried to offer different points of views were either downvoted heavily or quickly ignored. Ubisoft’s community manager tried to explain the situation on Reddit, only to earn over 7,000 downvotes.

All of these led Ubisoft to backpedal on the proposed changes. Instead, the game will revert to its original assets when the new update hits.

Rainbow Six Siege Ubisoft China Censorship

The Internet Loves Blowing Things Up

Personally, I don’t think that Ubisoft should have backpedaled on its changes. First, it’s because I do feel that many of the most vocal gamers online are exaggerating the effects of these aesthetic changes.

In Psychology, we know that we humans have a propensity to exaggerate how we feel about something. More often than not, we do this in the heat of the moment. Our emotions are heightened and we blurt out random statements if only to emphasize how gravely we feel. This is in spite of probably knowing that we’re already resorting to hyperbole. Our worries and our fears lead us to catastrophize where we think something is already a massive disaster. We create a crisis out of thin air.

People exaggerate what they feel in order to justify that feeling even more. Turning minor things into a big deal affirms the idea. Once surrounded within the bubble with people who feel the same way, those ideas and emotions are amplified.

The internet loves that. It often thrives on anger and outrage as much as it does cat GIFs. With that in mind, Ubisoft should have stuck to its guns for a while longer, giving players a chance to get used to the changes. Instead, it gave the outrage a sense of validity by handing these angry players a victory.

Rainbow Six Siege - Angry Gamers

Broadening One’s Worldview

Some of the key points presented by many outraged players include that they’re fighting for freedom, the right to free expression, speech, or artistry. They’re fighting against oppression and censorship. That’s something they feel Ubisoft is doing just to conform to China’s regulations. There’s an abject disdain that “the West” has when they feel that their “freedom” is threatened. That’s an exaggeration in and of itself.

At the risk of sounding political — even though discussions about freedom, censorship, and authoritarian regimes are obviously political — I believe that many of these vocal players are a little misguided.

To give you a brief background, I actually grew up under a dictatorship. There was no way for people to speak out against the government. The only news you could receive is one that conforms to the regime. People were silenced, kidnapped, and tortured.

I recall being a child, marching hand-in-hand with my folks (and millions of people) to oust said dictatorship. From that point onwards, I knew what “freedom” in its highest and most sacred form, meant. It meant that it was not something I could just randomly throw around for no good reason. It was not something I could blurt out for the sake of blurting it out.

I have known people who fought (and died) to restore that freedom and to fight against censorship. When you compare all of that to “video game pixel removal,” Rainbow Six Siege’s aesthetic tweaks are ridiculously insignificant.

How could anyone actually know what true censorship or oppression is when they’ve lived in perpetual freedom their entire lives in more privileged countries? Who knows, maybe one day these players will broaden their horizons and speak to those from others in less privileged parts of the globe. Maybe compare their woes in a video game and ask those people what “freedom” means to them.

Rainbow Six Siege - Freedom

Fighting For Freedom

Still, players feel that they’re actually fighting for a righteous cause. Or maybe it’s just another generic outburst on the internet while people are in the heat of the moment. It’s hard for someone like me to take it seriously given my perspective.

As for Ubisoft’s decision, I suppose it’s their way of doing damage control. I don’t agree with it since it sets a bad precedent by caving in to the demands of a subset of players. At any point in time when you make a questionable change in the future, you know there’s a good chance people will make a fuss about it because they think they can have it their way again.

As for the angry and outraged players, well, they got their wish. Instead of Ubisoft kowtowing to China, the company kowtowed to an internet crowd instead.

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  • Jrodriguezwp

    I’m a small business owner who’s also writing on the side, contributing in various websites under the Enthusiast Gaming umbrella — Destructoid, Flixist, Daily Esports, PlayStation Enthusiast, and PC Invasion.
    My Steam library has 1,131 games at the moment so we definitely have a lot of things to talk about.

    • Andrew

      Newsflash: You are a games journalist and you are supposed to advocate for gamer interests. The ‘mob’ as you call them are merely enthusiasts. Every hobby has them and developers piss them off at their peril – and rightly so. Without them alot of gamer culture and critique would disappear. (Are you apart of this ‘entitlement’ brigade I hear about? How dare gamers expect things?)

      The casual market will not be reading this article and they will not notice the slow descent of standards. But when it gets to a certain point, like with Star Wars Battlefront 2, they will notice and you will all wonder where the outrage came from. When the enthusiasts react to something, that is a canary in the coalmine moment, and you dear games journalist, should be trying to dissect the significance of the action not playing a game of victim olympics.

      • Jason Rodriguez

        > “you are supposed to advocate for gamer interests”

        I’d have to correct you there. That’s because even if there are vocal and angry players in a gaming community, they do not represent the entire community. The vocal subsets in various games tend to be comprised of only that — a subset, a fraction — of the entire player base.

        Just because you might agree with a certain opinion, that doesn’t mean that’s the only opinion or the only “gamer interest” that exists.

        • Masakan

          Right with the other ones being indifferent and apathetic about everything, or people like you who only seem to care about lining your pockets with that sweet sweet china money.

          • Jason Rodriguez

            > “Right with the other ones being indifferent and apathetic about
            everything, or people like you who only seem to care about lining your
            pockets with that sweet sweet china money.”

            I’m not entirely sure why the mere idea of having a different opinion automatically meant “getting some sweet money from China.”
            Heh… the internet never ceases to amaze.

        • User

          Your argument justifying giving in to China’s censorship is weaker than non alcoholic beer.

          It has nothing to do with being open. You argue that pixels can’t compare to a true dictatorship or suffering, but fail to realize how allowing censorship with pixels can set a precedent where someone might feel okay to try and censor something beyond that, and so on and so forth. One might think having experienced a dictatorship with authoritarian control first hand, you would understand this better than anyone, and appreciate why ultimate freedom is important and must be preserved. Instead, you seem to have developed some sort of Stockholm syndrome, for reasons unknown.

          I want no part in censoring anything, whether I agree or disagree with it. If I censor someone else, who’s to say they can’t censor me?

          • Jason Rodriguez

            > how allowing censorship with pixels can set a precedent where someone
            might feel okay to try and censor something beyond that, and so on and
            so forth

            It’s what we call a slippery slope argument. http://www.psychologyconcepts.com/slippery-slope-fallacy/

            Don’t forget, it was actually conveyed publicly that while there are minor changes globally, there will be additional (and more drastic changes) — for a region-locked branch build. https://www.reddit.com/r/Rainbow6/comments/9tlq6q/aesthetic_changes_in_y3s4/e8xjhnf/

            So it would be highly dubious to expect that more and more and more will be censored, so on and so forth, unless it’s for a branch/region-locked build.

            ——————-

            > One might think having experienced a dictatorship with authoritarian
            control first hand, you would understand this better than anyone, and
            appreciate why ultimate freedom is important and must be preserved.
            Instead, you seem to have developed some sort of Stockholm syndrome, for reasons unknown.

            Oh, I actually do understand it a lot. That’s why I know that freedom is not something I can just wave and throw around without a care in the world. For me to do that then it simply meant my understanding of freedom was shallow to begin with.

            ——————

            > I want no part in censoring anything, whether I agree or disagree with it.

            A good question I could ask you is this:

            “If the censorship was to done for the sake of Germany or Australia, would you be angry?”

            Because I do believe that, while some gamers might be angry at first, they’d move on a lot faster. They’d certainly let “censorship” slide eventually.

            – If censorship was done for the benefit of Germany/Australia — countries which are democratic and “more Western” — then Western gamers won’t feel too offended. Those countries have been “totally cool” for quite some time.

            – Conversely, if censorship was done for the benefit of China, that would lead you to react more vehemently. That’s because China isn’t a democracy; and it feels “more foreign” than Germany and Australia to the Western gamer.

            I think the R6 Siege situation is -less- of a case of fighting against “any form of censorship” or “censorship in principle.”
            It’s simply what type of censorship that you are okay with, and that depends on the country it’s being done for.

            • diamond

              You didn’t bother to address the question of why Ubisoft could not simply make a separate version of the game for China as opposed to forcing every other country to have to deal with their asinine censorship laws.

              • Jason Rodriguez

                It was actually mentioned above that the original plans were to make minor aesthetic changes (icons, neon signs, etc) globally, while more in-depth and major changes would be done for a “branch build that’s region-locked.” So yes, it was actually noted that there will be a separate version for China with more restrictions, just that minor changes would be made globally.

    • User

      “I do feel that many of the most vocal gamers online are exaggerating the effects of these aesthetic changes.”

      “Broadening Ones World View”

      You can’t be serious… You’re advocating for Western audiences to be censored and controlled in the same way that China controls it’s people, and I want no part of that. I have enough confidence and sureness in my life that I don’t need some commie dictatorship to tell me what to do, or what I can or can’t. Give the game to Chinese players in a form that’s permissible to them and their laws, but don’t take away from what I am able to enjoy in order to do so. China’s laws are restrictive and far from good compared to our own – let’s not entertain the notion that enforcing these laws on ourselves in the form of video games is acceptable. It’s not acceptable – period.

      Never give an inch to censorship or anything that will hamper freedom. Dear lord…

      • Jason Rodriguez

        > You’re advocating for Western audiences to be censored and controlled in the same way that China controls it’s people

        > Never give an inch to censorship or anything that will hamper freedom

        I think you misunderstand — broadening one’s world view doesn’t mean “advocating for Western audiences to be censored and controlled,” etc.

        It simply means equating this “trouble” you perceive to the reality in other parts of the globe and if it truly and realistically feels like a big deal.

        That’s why I even suggested — for those who’ve lived with the privilege of absolute freedom their entire lives — to try and speak to those who realistically had their freedoms taken, living under censorship and control, or even those who fought to gain it back.

        Tell your story and your plight to people who’ve lived in repressive or brutal regimes. See how they will react.

        Why? Because I think it might help broaden worldviews. Maybe, just maybe, in spite of living in absolute freedom, there might be an understanding of “freedom” (and its opposing concepts) that’s not so paper-thin.

        • diamond

          My god you are brain-dead.

    • Executr

      So another article from this author patronizing the ‘mob’ and, instead of criticizing Ubisoft for such blunder, it’s condescending towards gamers who have the power by using, in this case, Steam reviews to change something they feel isn’t right. This was a something Ubisoft created. They could’ve have initially gone for a different censured version for the chinese market, seeing they’ll be playing on separate servers anyways, but now had to deal with the backlash and concede to revert these changes.

      • Jason Rodriguez

        > who have the power by using, in this case, Steam reviews to change something they feel isn’t right

        Actually, it’s been known that review-bombing is generally a knee-jerk reaction spurred on by some outside force. You could check out some examples from:

        – Total War: Rome 2 = which was review-bombed several months after it added female generals: https://www.pcinvasion.com/total-war-rome-2-female-generals-outrage-drama/
        – Shadow of the Tomb Raider = which was review-bombed because it went on sale: https://www.pcinvasion.com/shadow-of-the-tomb-raider-review-bomb-steam/
        – Here’s Civilization 6 and Kerbal Space Program = review-bombed several days after a topic about Red Shell on Reddit got a lot of upvotes: https://www.pcinvasion.com/red-shell-retrospective-spyware-controversy/

        I just tend to analyze behaviors and see patterns. You might simply feel that way because I’m analyzing the situation rather than adhering and supporting your beliefs instantly. That’s still fine. Disagreements are normal in life and in any social interactions.

        ——————–

        You might also realize that the reactions to Siege aren’t necessarily because of what the announcement entailed — but the perception of what it entailed which was influenced by outside forces (such as internet forums and social media).

        MIT has actually done research in 1996 (when the internet was young) to point out that online interactions can and will cause people to seek only the information and the people that validate their views. http://web.mit.edu/marshall/www/papers/CyberBalkans.pdf

        Similarly, Psychology also tells us that outrage can be contagious and pleasurable, because of the opportunities it provides for us to find moral superiority, or affirmation in our anger: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/domestic-intelligence/201803/the-dangerous-pleasures-outrage

        ———————-

        I think the best question to ask yourself is this:

        – Were you truly angry because of the proposed changes?

        – Or were you angry only after you discovered on the internet that other people were angry?

        Because if it’s the latter, then, my friend, it’s simply an example of the “bandwagon effect.” https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-the-bandwagon-effect-2795895

        • diamond

          I’m guessing you think China was justified with their actions in Tienanmen Square and think their actions regarding Tiber were justified, the amount of boot-licking you are doing is truly sickening.

    • diamond

      Way to totally miss the point jackass!

      The point was that it wasn’t fair that EVERYONE else should have to deal with the changes when they were only being done to comply with ONE country’s laws-China, and there was NO reason whatsoever why Ubisoft could not have simply given China their own completely separate censored version of the game rather then force EVERY other country to get the same changes, it’s utterly baffling as to why they thought it was a good idea(course I could say the same thing about making an R6 game without a story campaign, but what do I know? BTW i’m still pissed off about Patriots getting cancelled for Siege).

      Let me guess, you’re one of those morons that think Bioware was giving into “entitled gamers” by changing the ending to ME3?

      • Jason Rodriguez

        It was actually mentioned above that the original plans were to make minor aesthetic changes (icons, neon signs, etc) globally, while more in-depth and major changes would be done for a “branch build that’s region-locked.” So yes, it was actually noted that there will be a separate version for China with more restrictions, just that minor changes would be made globally.

        > The point was that it wasn’t fair that EVERYONE else should have to deal
        with the changes when they were only being done to comply with ONE
        country’s laws-China

        I also asked in a previous comment to someone else how they would’ve reacted had the announcement been for the sake of “German or Australian restrictions.” I doubt a majority in the R6 Siege subreddit and communities would react as vehemently.

        So it’s not necessarily a case of “being unfair for everyone else because of compliance with one country’s laws,” “censorship in principle,” or “censorship in general” — because games have indeed received some changes in the past (globally) due to certain country’s laws (ie. Germany). Players barely bat an eye because that form of “censorship” is “acceptable” since it’s done for countries that they have more in common with (Western) as opposed to something so foreign that it causes more aversion.