Blizzard backtracks on Overwatch 2’s frustrating phone verification system after major backlash

Liam Mackay
Kiriko and Kitsune spirit in Overwatch 2

Overwatch 2 players are completely locked out of the game if they have a pre-paid phone contract, even if they played Overwatch 1. After a ton of backlash, Blizzard have changed the way SMS Protect operates.

Overwatch 2 finally arrived on October 4 but as millions logged in for the first time, the experience was marred for many by the huge server queues, DDoS attacks, and the issues with Blizzard’s new SMS Protect system.

Overwatch 2’s SMS Protect system requires every player to have a phone number connected to their account to play — regardless of whether they purchased Overwatch 1.

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This was designed to combat cheaters, but as many feared, players with pre-paid phone contracts were completely locked out of the game. Long-time Overwatch fans were feeling angry, upset, and even “ashamed.”

Now, following a ton of backlash, Blizzard confirmed in an October 5 blog post that they “made the decision to remove phone number requirements for a majority of existing Overwatch players.”

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This means that any Overwatch player with a account, including all players who have played since June 9, 2021, “will not have to provide a phone number to play.”

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However, this hasn’t been a complete removal of the SMS Protect system as new accounts or accounts that haven’t been merged “will still have to meet SMS Protect requirements.”

So, new players will still need to connect a post-paid phone number to play, and could still run into the issues that are blocking players with pre-paid contracts from playing.

Blizzard expects these changes to arrive on Friday, October 7, and will update the community once live. They confirmed they’re still listening to feedback and “will make further adjustments in this area if it is required.”

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This SMS Protect system will also arrive in Modern Warfare 2 with its October 28 launch, so we’ll need to wait and see if these changes will be implemented there as well.

Image Credit: Blizzard

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About The Author

Liam is CharlieIntel's Editor who focuses on Call of Duty but also plays lots of fantasy RPGs or anything else in his massive gaming backlog. After graduating in Journalism from Edinburgh Napier University, Liam freelanced in games journalism before joining CharlieIntel in November 2020. You can contact Liam at [email protected].