Rainbow Six: Siege is here to stay. Given the game's continued growth, with casual and competitive communities nurtured in tandem, it's fair to say that its place in the esports world is pretty much assured. Since its relatively modest release at the tail end of 2015, a sensible approach to post-launch DLC has helped the game to flourish, keeping the community together while also adding to and improving the game over time.
Expansion comes at a cost, though, and this is also a game that has endured the odd hiccup along the way. And it's precisely this that has prompted Operation Health, a period of time where Ubisoft intends to give the game a thorough health check, in the process making sure that it's better placed to take advantage of its growing popularity in the years ahead.
In the run-up to the announcement of this change of direction, we were offered the chance to fire some questions in the direction of brand director Alexandre Remy, who had plenty to tell us about the state of the game, and the changes being made to ensure it remains fighting fit for the foreseeable future.
"For the next three months with Operation Health we're going to be putting the health of the game at the highest level of priority, even higher than content and gameplay itself," Remy told us. "The next three months, that will allow us to focus on improvements in matchmaking, servers, connectivity and hit registration, to a level that we couldn't have done if we had to deliver a season at the same time."
Why is it coming now, though? What marks this as the ideal moment to take stock and make refinements? Well, as Remy explained to us, the first weekend of Velvet Shell saw a huge influx of players, to the extent that it had a detrimental effect. "There's a point in the game when the population reaches a certain level it becomes, some of the systems on matchmaking and connectivity is making [...] the connection not as solid as you [would] wish."
Operation Health, then, will help the studio invest in those key areas that need to scale when increased numbers of players want to play.
Remy told us that they are going to focus on three key areas, the most important being online improvements. We're going to see the introduction of one-step matchmaking, they're upgrading to "faster, better servers", and they're going to remove all of the remaining peer-to-peer elements so that "100% of the game will be hosted server side".
The aim is to make "tremendous" improvements to the matchmaking side of the game, and Ubisoft is going to spend the next three months trying to make the player experience "smooth, comfortable, reliable."