Blizzard will remove the controversial SMS Protect system from Overwatch 2, but only for OW1 players

In an effort to keep player accounts protected and limit in-game toxicity, Blizzard has added an SMS Protect system to Overwatch 2 for players. This system required all players, on all platforms, to have a phone number associated with their accounts.

Check out the first season of Overwatch 2 in this trailer.

Besides, this isn’t just about protecting players. the SMS Protect system also helps Blizzard control exactly who can access Overwatch 2. Blizzard has since announced that it will remove the SMS Protect system for Overwatch 2 players who have previously played Overwatch 1 as of June 9, 2021. If not you’re exactly sure what the deal is with SMS Protect, we’ve explained it here.

In a previous blog post detailing the Defense Matrix initiative, which aims to prevent disruptive behavior and gaming, Blizzard said: “SMS Protect brings meaningful change when it comes to disruptive gaming. This added layer of security is an industry-proven solution to combat both cheating and disruptive behavior, further protecting your Overwatch 2 experience from bad actors.”

Blizzard continues, “SMS Protect helps verify your account ownership in the unlikely event of an account breach. Similarly, if a disruptive player has been suspended or banned, SMS Protect makes it more difficult for them to return to the game. “

This may seem like a good thing at face value, but in reality, it prevents many players from taking part in Overwatch 2 for reasons unrelated to their behavior. The SMS Protect system does not take into account households that may share the same phone number, nor does it accept prepaid or VOIP numbers.

As a result many players are unable to access the game and this especially affects younger players or those who cannot afford to have phones that are paid off or on contracts etc.

In a twist of events, Blizzard announced via the Launch Status Update page that the SMS Protect system will be removed. Blizzard says that, “Every Overwatch player with a linked account, which includes all players who have played since June 9, 2021, will not be required to provide a phone number to play.” The results of this will be live from October 7.

While this is something, it is not the end of the SMS Protect system that locks players out of the game. Those who haven’t played Overwatch and want to get the new free-to-play title may face difficulties if the system doesn’t accept their phone number.

That said, Blizzard shared that they will be making further adjustments to this particular area as needed. Hopefully, those who paid for any Overwatch 2 content, or even the original Overwatch game itself, will get access to the game soon.

Regarding the ongoing server issues, Blizzard says, “We’ve addressed some issues and are in the process of addressing others, but players should still expect to see queues.”

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