INTERVIEW: François-Xavier Dénièle Elaborates on the Rainbow Six Pilot Program
On June 5, Rainbow Six: Siege developer Ubisoft revealed the latest changes to its Rainbow Six Pro League—a revenue sharing Pilot Program. 11 Pro League teams from across the world will receive a share of revenue generated from sales in special Pro League-branded in-game items.
The program is a unique and cautious approach to revenue sharing in an era of esports where franchised leagues are becoming more popular. The Esports Observer spoke with esports director at Ubisoft EMEA François-Xavier Dénièle to learn more about the Pilot Program and how Ubisoft plans to expand on the initiative in the future.
What metrics will Ubisoft be examining to determine how to advance the revenue share model beyond these 11 teams?
We will obviously track sales on skins and charms for the 11 teams involved in the Program, as well as the impact of the Pro League items sales more globally. The contribution and commitment of structures within this Program will be key as well, on various aspects such as the professionalization of their roster. Once we are confident these elements are well balanced and benefiting the Pro League as a whole, we will be able to move forward, towards a more final model.
There appear to be no teams in the pilot program from the Asian region. What led to that decision?
The APAC Pro League started last September with Season 6, so the region’s involvement and growth is quite new. We are already very happy to welcome Fnatic and its Australian roster in the Program, and we continue to work at making the Asian territories currently involved (Japan, Korea, South East Asia) grow within our scene. With a notably great showing from Japanese teams at the latest Six Invitational and Season 7 Finals, we are definitely on the right path.
What was the reasoning to but all prize pool-focused revenue towards the Six Invitational 2019 rather than splitting the fund between it and the Paris Major in August?
The Six Invitational, our world championship held in the game’s birth city and celebration of the Rainbow Six community, remains the biggest event of the year for Rainbow Six esports. The base prize pool for the Six Invitational ($500k), before even counting the revenue share, is actually higher than the Six Major Paris prize pool ($350k). Also, this year’s Six Major in Paris is the first iteration of a new format, the Six Major being our second Major event each year in addition to the now “traditional” Six Invitational in Montreal. We will see how things evolve in the future.
What made this model more appealing than the franchise model of the Overwatch League or LCS?
As its name indicates, our revenue-share initiative is a “Pilot Program,” a test period. For this first phase, we looked to bring in established and stable organizations all while maintaining existing and experienced Pro League rosters. To enter the Program, main criteria is based on how the structure will help our scene, rosters, and players develop. Setting a franchise model in our current situation did not seem to be the best option to maintain our steady and meticulous growth strategy for the moment being. Continuing to develop our strong community and to build a solid pool of highly competitive teams, through this Program and our relegation system, remain our main objectives.
Ubisoft’s “steady and meticulous growth strategy” has already shown returns this year. Viewership for the 2018 Six Invitational, R6’s world championship, grew by 300% over the 2017 event. The Rainbow Six Pro League has also secured two high profile endemic sponsors in 2018. HyperX has been named the official headset partner of the Paris Major and the Six Invitational for 2018, while Lenovo’s Legion gaming brand recently announced a partnership with the Pro League through Spring 2019.
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