Ubisoft has detailed the first year of Rainbow Six Siege's DLC plan in a lengthy blog post. The publisher is essentially operating a "no paywall" philosophy where maps are given away for free and extra characters (operators, in the game's lingo) can be unlocked either by extended play or with real money. That first year of extra stuff will be divided into four seasons, too, each with a different theme.
During year one, Ubisoft will release four new maps, eight new operators, new game modes and cosmetic items. "Maps and modes will be free and available immediately for everyone," the post reads. "New operators and most weapon skins can be unlocked with earned currency called Renown, or with R6 Credits... The only new content that will be available exclusively by purchase will be a small number of premium weapon skins that are purely aesthetic and have no impact on gameplay."
Renown is your basic experience-based currency—you can spend this on weapons, skins and operators, but all the post-launch maps will be free. It's earned across almost everything in Siege and is affected by factors like your kills, deaths, revives and even friendly fire. Post-launch, a new operator will set you back 25,000 renown, which Ubisoft reckons will take around a mere 25 hours to unlock, which is fine, because our time on this planet is absolutely not precious and I plan on expiring at the achievable age of 142. For dedicated players that sounds reasonable, though. Alternatively, you buy a new operator with real cash for $5, which translates to 600 points of R6 credits. Higher tiers of weapon skins can only be bought with real money.
The goal, of course, is to avoid fragmenting the player base, a familiar annoyance in the current age of big multiplayer games. "For an online, competitive multiplayer game it’s imperative that we don’t create a divide in the community or introduce 'pay to win' mechanics. By doing it this way, we hope to keep our community united and engaged over the long term."
I think it's a necessary gesture for a game that's up for pre-order at $60/£50 when their nearest competitor is the much cheaper, very well-established CS:GO. Anything Ubi can do to hang onto that early audience is a wise move. The first season of Rainbow Six Siege DLC is called Operation Black Ice, which will arrive in January with a new map and two new operators. The game itself is out on December 1.