The Rainbow Six Siege hype train is showing no signs of slowing. The release of the free Operation Chimera update this week has seen Siege’s player count on Steam surge 51%, hitting its highest ever peak of 176,000 concurrent players. The highest peak in 2017 was 133K, while 2016 saw it max out at 42K concurrent players. These figures don't include anyone playing through Uplay or on consoles, so that 176,000 figure is likely much, much higher in reality.

It means Rainbow Six Siege is now the fourth most popular game on Steam, comfortably beating out GTA V in 5th place. The only games to top Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 Siege are CSGO, DOTA 2 and PUBG.

As you see in the chart, it’s an astonishing turnaround from its small beginnings. This week has proven the most successful in Siege’s history though, thanks to Operation Chimera. This free updated added a co-op zombie PvE mode called Outbreak, as well two new attacking Operators for competitive play.

In addition to all of this, Ubisoft has made a few more concessions to help players coming into the game late. Anyone who buys Rainbow Six Siege (aside from the budget-priced Starter Edition) will unlock all 20 of the base Operators for free. As well as this, all weapon attachments are not free as well, so players can get straight in their and clip on scopes, silences, dot sights, etc. While an additional layer of complexity, it's better than handing players a naked weapon that's inferior to their foes'.

As a template for how Ubisoft can support games long-term, Siege really is impeccable. Following a tepid launch and plenty of naysayers, Siege has transformed into a popular eSport which, thanks to regular 3-monthly updates, manages to stay consistently fresh.

Any first-time players jumped in for Year 3? How long can Ubisoft keep this growth going?