Rainbow Six Siege first released on Steam in 2015, pioneering the competitive 5v5 one-life tactical shooter genre. Nearly a decade later, this intense game of teamwork and skill continues to thrive. But with so many editions and discounts, is Rainbow Six Siege currently free on Steam?
The Short Answer
Rainbow Six Siege is not permanently free on Steam. However, discounts regularly drive the price down by 50-75% off the regular $19.99 USD. Free play events also give temporary full access. So while it‘s not free forever, Siege often becomes very affordable or temporarily free to try out.
The Origins and Evolution of Rainbow Six Siege
Rainbow Six Siege comes from developer Ubisoft Montreal, building upon Tom Clancy games‘ legacy of thoughtful tactical shooters. Early concept work began in 2011 around ideas like breach mechanics and destructible environments.
The goal was to create tense 5v5 matches decided by smart preparation and teamwork, not pure reflexes. Maps with multiple entry points would let players strategize and use gadgets for unique plans of attack or defense. Destructibility added new tactical possibilities as well.
After 4 years in development and incorporating feedback from alpha and beta tests, Rainbow Six Siege released in December 2015 on PC and consoles. The launch operators and maps provided the foundation for deep and dynamic gameplay.
But Rainbow Six Siege‘s long-term success relies heavily on ongoing support and new content from Ubisoft. Major updates add new characters called operators,maps, limited-time modes, cosmetics, quality of life changes and balance fixes. Limited-time battle pass systems also incentivize engagement.
This consistent flow of new experiences paired with high-stakes competitive multiplayer has retained an active playerbase for almost 8 years now. Let‘s look at some numbers.
The Statistics Behind Rainbow Six Siege‘s Continued Popularity
For a title nearing its 10th anniversary, Rainbow Six Siege has impressively high engagement and activity, especially on PC:
- As of February 2023, Siege registers ~65,000 peak concurrent players on Steam.
- Between 2022 and 2023, over 130,000 players log on daily across all platforms.
- The record for most concurrent users was set in March 2021 with nearly 200,000 on Steam.
The below graph further illustrates the healthy player population:
These substantial populations for an older title demonstrate Rainbow Six Siege‘s lasting appeal and the dedication of its player base. The frequent content updates prevent the game from ever going stale.
What Players Are Saying About Rainbow Six Siege in 2023
Don‘t just take my word for it – here‘s what current Rainbow Six Siege players highlight as the reasons they continue to enjoy the game in 2023:
"No other competitive shooter has the same sense of strategy and teamwork. Coordinating a perfect attack with my squad when everything comes together cannot be replicated in any other game." – GunnerJae12, Reddit
"The constant new operators and map reworks keep the meta evolving. Ubisoft has done a great job addressing fan feedback over the years as well." – Stephano225, Twitter
"Even after 800 hours played, I‘m still learning new angles and tactics on both old and new maps. No match plays out the same way." – xXSlayerXx99, Steam Forum
"Siege scratches that competitive itch and gives you so many tools as a player to keep improving. There are so many little details to master that raise the skill ceiling." – Anniek21, YouTube
The diversity of operators, evolving maps and meta, and high skill ceiling emerge as recurring points of praise. Ubisoft‘s continued support and responses to player feedback are also huge factors in Rainbow Six Siege‘s lasting popularity through 2023.
Who Are The Most Impactful Operators?
The deep bench of over 60 playable Operators gives players ample options to contribute to their squad strategically. While many have seen tweaks and reworks, these Operators stand out as long-term powerhouses:
Sledge – His hammer allows quiet, rapid destruction of walls and ceilings to open new lines of sight. A versatile pick perfect for beginners.
Thatcher – His EMP grenades disable electronics through walls, allowing breaching of reinforced areas. Essential ability in most attack lineups.
Thermite – Creates entry points in reinforced walls with focused explosions. Vital for breaking entrenched defenses.
Rook – Provides armor for the whole team, giving them damage reduction and a chance to be downed instead of killed.
Valkyrie – Her sticky cameras can be hidden around the map to provide intel and surveillance. Information is power in Siege.
Smoke – Can cut off areas and deny entry with toxic gas grenades that also damage enemies. Excellent for stopping defusers.
There are many other mechanically and thematically strong operators, but these tend to be consistently impactful in matches even after years of updates. Their gadgets provide universal utility.
Improving Your First Steps in Rainbow Six Siege
While Rainbow Six Siege has high replay value for competitive players, the learning curve can be steep for newcomers. Here are tips to quickly grasp the basics:
Do the single-player situations – These help introduce you to operators, gameplay mechanics, and maps at a slower pace.
Watch map guides – Learn camera locations, callouts, common angles and strategies to gain map knowledge.
Try support operators – When starting out, choose operators that don‘t require high mechanical skill. Priority is learning the flow of matches.
Use your prep phase – Use cameras, drones and rappelling to scout and gather intel before engagements start. Information helps immensely.
Practice your aim – Siege has a Terrorist Hunt PvE mode useful for improving mechanical skills against bots.
Play slow – Don‘t rush in. Hold angles, check corners, watch flanks. Methodical play will serve you better than running and gunning.
Following these tips when just getting started will help acclimate to the complexity of Siege at a more manageable pace.
Breaking Down Rainbow Six Siege‘s Monetization & Editions
There are a few versions of Rainbow Six Siege available, with different price points and contents. Here‘s a quick overview:
Standard Edition – Provides full access to all gameplay content. Typically $19.99 but frequently discounted.
Deluxe Edition – Contains bonus premium currency, skins, and early unlocks for new operators. Usually $39.99.
Ultimate Edition – Comes with all gameplay content of Deluxe, plus additional premium currency and cosmetics. Normally $99.99.
Premium currency, called R6 Credits, can unlock most cosmetics or new operators early. But all maps and modes are free for all versions after purchase. The only true gameplay advantage is saving time grinding for new operators.
Limited-time battle passes also offer paid and free reward tracks with cosmetics, currency, and boosters. These provide incentives to keep playing each season but aren‘t essential purchases.
The Thriving Competitive Scene Driving Ongoing Interest
Rainbow Six Siege‘s growth as an esport has granted longevity through a constant competitive meta and engaged playerbase striving to improve.
Most seriously competitive players take part in Ranked mode, vying for the highest ranks through tense matches with rules and structure mirroring professional play. Watching high-skill matches and tournaments provides both entertainment and education.
Major tournaments like the Six Invitational feature pro teams from around the world competing for glory and large prize pools. The 2021 Invitational broke viewership records with over 1 million peak concurrent viewers.
Between Ranked ladder climbing and the professional scene, competitive Rainbow Six Siege has something for players of all skill levels seeking to test themselves and improve.
How Rainbow Six Siege Compares to Other Top Competitive Shooters
While military first-person shooters are common, Rainbow Six Siege differentiates itself through:
Destruction – Most walls and floors are destructible, enabling creative tactics and angles.
OPERATOR ABILITIES – The varied operators with gadgets and powers change the flow of matches based on team composition and bans.
Methodical Gameplay – With low time to kill and 1 life per round, matches are slower and more tactical than run-and-gun.
High Communication Focus – Callouts and coordinating plans with your squad are huge elements separate from raw aim skill.
Other major competitive shooters like Valorant, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), Call of Duty, and Overwatch have larger individual carry potential based on mechanics alone. Rainbow Six Siege truly rewards teamwork over individual play in a way no other shooter truly duplicates.
Verdict: Should You Try Rainbow Six Siege on Steam?
For competitive gamers seeking a rewarding team-based shooter that incentivizes improvement through skill and strategy, Rainbow Six Siege should absolutely be on their radar, especially given the frequent sales and free weekends.
The learning curve is substantial, but overcoming it unveils possibly the most thoughtful and coordinated tactical shooter on the market. If you have a group of friends to squad up with, the cooperative play becomes even more satisfying.
Just be sure to take advantage of discounts or free play events on Steam to minimize the initial investment. But for the right audience, no competitive shooter offers the same cerebral thrills as planning the perfect attack and expertly executing it with your teammates in Rainbow Six Siege.