Overwatch 2: Blizzard is dropping a phone number requirement for the “majority” of players

Overwatch 2: Blizzard is dropping a phone number requirement for the “majority” of players

After negative feedback, Blizzard is removing Overwatch 2’s requirement for a non-prepaid phone for most players. The change is expected to go into effect this Friday, October 7.

In a forum post, Blizzard Community Manager Jodie wrote, “We designed Overwatch 2 as a live service, which allows us to respond to a variety of player feedback. We made the decision remove phone number requirements for the majority of existing users.Overwatch players. Any Overwatch player with a logged in Battle.net account, which includes all players who have played since June 9, 2021, will not be required to provide a phone number to play in. We are working to make this change and expect it to go live on Friday, October 7. We will let players know once it goes into effect.”

The SMS Protect system was intended to help curb cheating and disruptive player behavior, and it will remain in effect for those creating new accounts.

“Accounts that were not logged into Battle.net as well as new accounts will still need to meet SMS Protect requirements, which helps ensure that we are protecting our community from cheating. If a player is caught cheating engage in disruptive behavior, their account may be banned whether they have a new account or not,” the statement read.

The message ends by saying that the team “will make further adjustments in this area if necessary.” The statement does not confirm whether the previous block on prepaid phone numbers has been removed, and we asked Blizzard to comment.

The free-to-play nature of Overwatch 2 should mean that it’s accessible to all players with a compatible device. However, a side effect of a new Blizzard security measure is leaving some users out in the cold.

On Twitter, user Saint Jacques brought the community’s attention to Overwatch 2’s SMS Protect policy, which states that all players must connect a phone number to their battle.net account to launch Overwatch 2.

Blizzard made this news public last week, but players only started to notice it on a larger scale after the game went live yesterday. According to a press release on the official Overwatch website, the SMS Protect feature is a solution to combat “both cheating and disruptive behavior” in Overwatch 2. Part of the release says the following:

“As of October 4, 2022, all players on all platforms, including consoles, must have a phone number attached to their battle.net account to launch Overwatch 2. The same phone number cannot be used on multiple accounts at the same time, and players cannot use the same phone number to create multiple accounts. A phone number can only be used once when creating a new account, and some types of numbers, including prepaid and VOIP numbers, cannot be used for SMS Protect.

The problematic part is the last sentence, where it says that prepaid phone plans are not eligible for SMS Protect. Prepaid phone plans, from companies like Cricket Wireless, require users to pay the bill before receiving service. These plans also rarely require a contract, making them a more attractive option for people who can’t afford or don’t want to spend that much money on a contract phone plan from Verizon or T-Mobile. Unfortunately, these are the people Overwatch 2 is currently excluding due to the SMS Protect requirement.

For example, in a post on r/Overwatch, one user said that this phone requirement made him feel bad about having a prepaid phone plan, writing in part, “I’m really upset and strangely ashamed that I’m not respecting this “standard”. Never thought I would be disqualified from playing Overwatch because of my abilities [to] afford a phone contract, but here we are… Blizzard is the first company to make me feel too poor to play a game.”

And it’s not like Overwatch fans on prepaid phone plans can even go back to the original game, as Blizzard shut down Overwatch’s servers to prepare for the sequel’s launch this week. Instead, players who launch Overwatch will be prompted to upgrade to Overwatch 2. Blizzard made the decision to shut down Overwatch 1 in order to maintain a unified playerbase in the new game.

When IGN asked for comment, Blizzard responded by saying, “We plan to fix this very soon, potentially this afternoon.” We’ll update this story when Blizzard addresses the lack of access for users with prepaid phone plans.

That’s not the only problem Overwatch 2 faced in its launch week, as online players are also complaining about long queues. Several posts on Twitter cite queues with more than 20,000 people lining up in front of them.

That’s not uncommon for massive online games during their launch window, as Final Fantasy XIV fans no doubt know. Blizzard also told IGN that there will be communication later today regarding server wait times.

Beyond all that, the headlines yesterday surrounded the pair of DDoS attacks suffered by Overwatch 2 on launch day. So if you jumped into Overwatch 2 soon after launch, you likely encountered dropped games or other connection issues as Blizzard worked to fix server issues and stability.

Beneath all of these issues, there’s a good game somewhere in Overwatch 2. In our review, we called the sequel brilliant, saying “Overwatch 2 breathes new life into what was once the most popular multiplayer shooter. sharp of the moment, before it had its edges severely blunted by Blizzard’s diversion of attention.”

Logan Plant is a freelance writer for IGN covering video game and entertainment news. He has over six years of gaming industry experience with signings at IGN, Nintendo Wire, Switch Player Magazine, and Lifewire. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.

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