A few months ago, Ubisoft made Rainbow Six Siege players an offer: Enable 2-step verification on your account, and you'll get a free skin for Thermite. Today it announced a less-carrot, more-stick approach: Turn on 2FA, or say goodbye to Ranked play.
2-step verification (also known as 2-factor authentication) adds a second layer of security to online accounts that makes them more difficult to hack. Simply put, things like purchases or account changes require a second confirmation of intent through an email, text message, or an external app like Valve's Steam Guard. That way, even if someone figures out your password, anything untoward they try to do with it will, in theory at least, be thwarted because they probably don't have access to your authenticator.
It's a good idea for any games or social networks you actually care about, and as of December 11 it will be mandatory for Rainbow Six Siege players in North and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Ubisoft said the changeover is coming to those regions first because there are now enough players with 2FA enabled "to ensure a positive matchmaking experience." Players on Asia-Pacific servers will be given a deadline at a later date.
If you haven't yet activated 2FA, you're still eligible for the free Thermite skin as long as you do so prior to December 11; after that, however, your reward will be continued access to Ranked play. If you just don't want to do it for some reason, you'll still be able to play Situations, Terrorist Hunt, and Casual modes, but Ranked will be cut off until you stop being so stubborn about it.
Take note that the 2FA requirement for access to Ranked play will only apply to PC players: Console players can continue as they were—and, sorry to say, aren't eligible for the free Thermite skin, either. Full instructions for enabling 2-step verification are available from the Ubisoft support page.
While we like 2FA, a slight warning: anecdotally, our experience working with Ubisoft's support system on this issue hasn't been great. I asked our resident Siege pro Evan Lahti, who's logged 530 hours in the game, about this, and he noted that he's been trying and failing to get two-factor authentication to work since the feature was introduced. Ubisoft's help system hasn't allowed Evan to file a support ticket, giving inscrutable errors each time.