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Overwatch 2 ditches phone requirement after fan outcry

Blizzard will no longer ask legacy Overwatch players to verify their phone numbers in order to play Overwatch 2 following criticism from fans with prepaid phones.

On top of the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and miles-long queues that have plagued Overwatch 2 since its launch on Tuesday, some fans were furious about their inability to link phone numbers tied with their prepaid mobile providers, like Cricket Wireless and Mint Mobile, to Battle.net. Those numbers didn’t meet the requirement for SMS Protect, which Blizzard instituted in the game to combat cheating, trolling, and other bad behavior. The company said in the latest status update that it will remove the phone number linking requirement, but remains “committed to combating disruptive behavior.”

“We designed Overwatch 2 to be a live service, which enables us to be responsive to a variety of player feedback. We have made the decision to remove phone number requirements for a majority of existing Overwatch players,” Blizzard said. “Any Overwatch player with a connected Battle.net account, which includes all players who have played since June 9, 2021, will not have to provide a phone number to play. We are working to make this change and expect it to go live on Friday, October 7. We will update players once it is in effect.”

The phone requirement for Overwatch 2 caused controversy among some players who argued it sowed classism in the free-to-play game. In other words, players with prepaid phones were excluded from playing the game with those on regular phone plans. Reddit user RLmclovin, who has Cricket Wireless, said they were ashamed about not being able to play Overwatch 2 with their friends and family like the original game simply because they can’t afford a phone contract. Another Cricket Wireless user told Kotaku that not meeting Overwatch 2‘s phone requirement “feels like being punished for being poor.”

Although Blizzard instituted SMS Protect with the best of intentions, the class divide between Overwatch players with prepaid phone plans and those without was an unintended consequence. Most live service games, like Fortnite, never require players to link their phone numbers to their accounts in order to play them.

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