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Rainbow Six Siege Esports Director Maxime Vial reveals what’s next for the game’s thriving competitive scene

“We're definitely looking at another ten years for Siege.”

February’s Rainbow Six Siege Invitational pitted the world’s best players against each other in a sold-out São Paulo stadium. The prize? One million dollars.

The event’s scale may come as a shock if you’ve not kept up with Ubisoft’s class-based shooter, which launched in 2015 with a Metascore of just 73, but it’s the result of years of meticulous planning for Esports Director Maxime Vial, who’s worked with the game for almost seven years.

So, how has Siege got so big? Can it get bigger? And as it approaches its tenth anniversary, how far off is Rainbow Six Siege 2? These are the questions we put to Vial.

Six Invitational 2024 Grand Final at São Paulo's Ginásio do Ibirapuera

 São Paulo's Ginásio do Ibirapuera was packed for the Six Invitational 2024 Grand Final.

GLHF: Could you ever see Siege getting this big?

Maxime Vial: When I was hired on the project, I was brought on when we were kind of building an esports department, and it was a few people dedicated to esports, but we wanted to grow. I was initially brought on to grow the Six Invitational, to help shape it into the big event that it is. That’s what I used to do when I started, so I kind of have it in the back of my mind that everything we’re doing should be ready to scale up to these types of proportions. It was more wishful thinking than expecting it to happen, but I’m not gonna lie. I was always hoping that we would get there someday, and we’re definitely there.

Would you like to maintain Siege at the level it’s at now, because it’s in a pretty healthy state, or would you like to keep growing it?

We still want to grow. We still want to make a game that’s here to last. Our creative director, when he talks about it, he talks about being the best. It’s here to last, and we want to keep growing the game, definitely. I think when it comes to the scale of the event, obviously we want the events that are always gonna be bigger in terms of impact. It’s not necessarily always about the number of attendees that you get. There’s a lot of different ways. We can have a huge impact through broadcasting in so many more languages, having different types of partnerships, inviting more teams – all these kinds of stuff we might consider in the future. The objective is still on growth, but there’s many ways we can approach this when it comes to esports.

Rainbow Six Siege gameplay screenshot

Do you think this game could realistically reach the heights of top-tier esports games like Valorant and Counter-Strike?

Yeah, I think it can. I think the game has a very, I would say, loyal community. We have a lot of players who are extremely loyal, and what we do is unique in the industry, that we spread the line between a shooter along the lines of Valorant and Counter-Strike, but we bring a level of tactical depth that’s kind of unique in that regard. The destruction is something that no one else does, so I’m very confident that the game can still continue growing as long as we keep investing in those key pillars that define what our game is about.

What other Ubisoft franchises lend themselves to esports?

We have those games that are already doing esports, not of the same size and not of the same magnitude. Like we have the fighting game scene. We have Brawlhalla. It’s a bit smaller but definitely has a loyal and very engaged reach as well. Even though it’s a different type of response it’s still a very real type of competition that they’re doing. TrackMania is another one, so we have games that do that and there are also games that have been in development that might have those ambitions in the future. I would say that for now, they seem to have what it takes to be an esports game.

Rainbow Six Siege gameplay

What is the biggest feature that the community has requested?

That’s a big one. Over all the years, I think match replays were probably a big thing that released three or four years ago now, but that was a huge thing. You know the ability to go back after one of your games and look at what you did, or to look at the four players loaded in and you can see in first-person how they behave. That’s super valuable information for any type of player. Even for content creators who just want to create content around Siege.

Is there anything in the future players have requested that you’re working on?

Some of the features that are going to be announced on Sunday, you know, as part of the Rainbow Six Siege Year 9 reveal panel, some of those are heavily requested. It’s not necessarily always the flashiest ones, but you can think about how we’re improving on technologies like mouse trap detection, or how we’re looking to address balancing elements. The community is always very vocal about balancing and how they think the game should go, and we’re aware right now that we’re leaning a bit too much on the defensive side. So it’s not features per se, but it’s adjustments and tweaks that are gonna go in the right direction for that, and are going to be ultimately aligned with what the community is telling us.

Rainbow Six Siege gameplay

So more subtle things like the shield re-work?

The shield rework is gonna be one of them. There’s gonna be a balancing approach to some of those big operators in defense, you know, like Solis, Fenrir or Azami are really defining the meta right now. Things around them are gonna be pretty key. Everything we do is somewhat infused with feedback from the community. It’s just about how it processes, and finding a way to deliver something that actually works long-term.

Ubisoft said in the start it wanted this to be a ten-year game. Would you want to add another ten years on top, or are you looking towards Rainbow Six Siege 2?

No, no, we’re definitely looking at another ten years for Siege. Like that’s a great commitment. One of the phrases that I love from one of our game directors is ‘one hundred operators’. That’s the one I keep in mind. Right now, we’re at 70-something. I actually don’t remember the exact number, but we’re at 70-something, I think. Aiming for a hundred operators would be a pretty cool milestone to hit, while still remaining that big game. And then who knows? As long as there’s an appetite, and as long as the players are going to engage with the game, we’re gonna keep supporting it, and so far it hasn’t slowed down.