Censoring Rainbow Six is Hypocritical

Bad news, especially the kind you don’t want as many people to see, is often released on a Friday. Hopefully, the thought is, people are too looking forward to the weekend to pay attention to your press release. With that in mind, last Friday at noon Ubisoft announced global censoring is coming to Rainbow Six Siege.

Their case is laid out in the first sentence of their announcement, they want to bring Rainbow Six to Asian markets, presumably China, and must comply with local laws. To do so, instead of building an Asian version of the game, they’ve decided to just censor the game globally on behalf of the Communist Party of China. On the chopping block are references to violence, gambling, blood, and sexual content.

Rainbow Six Siege is rated M by the ESRB, for depictions of blood, drugs, language, and violence. It is a game that is 100% focused on violence, specifically killing the opposing team. I find it absurd that such a game now needs to have references to violence removed. Instead of a knife icon for melee kills in the feed it will be a fist, despite no punches ever being thrown in the game. It’s always a knife. A picture of a knife is too extreme for a game designed around shooting other humans with guns? Come on.

Image from Ubisoft Blog

References to gambling inside the maps will be removed. This means the static, non-functional slot machines seen in the Clubhouse map will be taken out. Not being eliminated from the game? Seasonal Alpha Packs. If you’re not aware of what those are, it’s Siege’s lootbox system. You know, actual virtual slot machines that you can pay real money to play. Everyday Alpha Packs can only be bought with in-game currency, but event packs, like the recent Halloween packs, can be bought with R6 Credits. You can only get R6 Credits through purchasing with real money. So, we can have literal gambling but not fake slot machines in a map? Thanks China!

Image from Ubisoft Blog

Blood splatters as a result of gunfire are allegedly not being removed from the game, but environmental blood that is just part of the map will be. This is a bizarre hypocritial stance. If a little blood on a picture is too much, how is it OK to see blood paint the walls after you down an enemy? If Ubisoft is censoring everything else, why wouldn’t blood splatters be removed next?

The announced changes have sparked major backlash in online communities like Siege’s own subreddit. I’ve played hundreds of hours of Siege and agree that these announced changed are nothing more than government sanctioned censorship being imposed on a worldwide audience, so Ubisoft can make a little more money. Bowing down to these demands is a slap in the face to the artistic direction of a game that, somehow, keeps prospering despite consistent mismanagement by Ubisoft. This is a controversy that I don’t feel will go away anytime soon, and I expect internal discussions are being held right now on how they can walk back this decision.