Rainbow Six Siege maps and art are being altered ahead of Asia release

Rainbow Six Siege players may soon find a few small, confusing changes to some of their favorite maps. If you find yourself wondering where all the slot machines on Clubhouse went or why there’s a new symbol for teamkills, the answer to both is the same: Siege is coming to Asia.

A new dev blog by Ubisoft is very forthcoming about the upcoming changes and why they’re being made. “We are currently working towards preparing Rainbow Six Siege for expansion into Asian territories. As such, there will be some adjustments made to our maps and icons to ensure compliance. None of these changes will have an impact on gameplay,” the post reads. 

Here are some examples of the changes being made.

China has a historically harsh and slow regulation process for games that have driven developers and publishers to make adjustments in order to qualify for the world’s biggest market for games. In 2007, World of Warcraft’s Chinese publisher at the time The9 removed skeletons from the game entirely. As recently as August, Tencent, the largest game conglomerate in Asia, had trouble with the approval process for Fortnite because of an apparent regulatory freeze from China on all games.

The China-specific regulations that developers must adhere to are pretty nonspecific and open to interpretation. Here’s a handy breakdown provided by TechInAsia. China’s Ministry of Culture forbids:

  • Gambling-related content or game features
  • Anything that violates China’s constitution
  • Anything that threatens China’s national unity, sovereignty, or territorial integrity.
  • Anything that harms the nation’s reputation, security, or interests.
  • Anything that instigates racial/ethnic hatred, or harms ethnic traditions and cultures.
  • Anything that violates China’s policy on religion by promoting cults or superstitions.
  • Anything that promotes or incites obscenity, drug use, violence, or gambling.
  • Anything that harms public ethics or China’s culture and traditions.
  • Anything that insults, slanders, or violates the rights of others.
  • Other content that violates the law

As TechInAsia explains, the murkiness of these guidelines can make developers risk-averse when they go to submit their game for approval. In the case of WoW, the complete removal of skeletons might not have been necessary. But it might have also been worth avoiding the hassle of being rejected and going back for reapproval.

The same reasoning may apply directly to Siege and its skull iconography on the Clubhouse map and in the killfeed UI. Does the use of a skull to communicate killing someone promote superstition? Does a skull wearing a hood and with hair put it over the top? Ubi may be asking themselves the very same questions, but would clearly rather bypass the issue altogether than find out.

Though the post doesn't mention it, I wonder if we should expect some changes to some of Siege's cosmetic items, which include stuff like demon masks, skeleton face paint, and gore. On the other hand, Ubisoft could simply elect to regionalize cosmetics rather than making all of them available in all regions. 

In a response to the announcement on Reddit, Siege community manager UbiNoty clarified that the game will actually have a regional version of the game for Asia. "Moving forward, we do recognize and understand that for some elements, it is not possible to have a completely global build. Thus, there will be some things that are split build-wise. While our goal is to maintain as close a parallel as possible between builds, we will also not compromise the core integrity of the gameplay and mechanics as they exist currently," the statement reads. What exactly will be changed only for Asia wasn't specified, but it could have to do with the game's blood content or in-game cosmetics. Aesthetic changes will be global to all versions, but core gameplay could be changed for Asian regions.

For the most part, Ubi’s alterations seem graceful enough to still evoke the same vibe from the map, but I’m curious to see what other small changes players will find when the alterations go live. Ubi didn’t mention when that will be, but I would guess it’ll come at the same time as Year 3 Season 4, expected in early December.