His launch Overwatch 2 it was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.
The game was almost immediately hit by a massive DDoS attack when it launched on Tuesday, causing a myriad of login and connectivity issues.
The game’s developer and publisher, Blizzard, was unprepared to handle this onslaught, making many players’ first impression of the game little more than a loading screen mixed with intense frustration. (I was finally able to log into the game late Tuesday night after far too much time waiting in endless queues, logging in over and over and various other shenanigans).
But aside from the DDoS attack and the frustration around long queues, Blizzard required an extra layer of security: You had to enter a phone number associated with your account during the sign-in process, in order to limit “cheating and disruption” to game.
Even worse, if you had a prepaid phone (as many millions of Americans do) it wasn’t considered valid, making it impossible for countless lower-income players to connect to the Overwatch 2 and they play—even if they’ve been playing the original game for years.
Even if you had an acceptable phone number, this requirement could prove problematic. I’ve set up accounts for me and my kids with different email addresses, but until now we didn’t need to include separate phone numbers. Luckily my kids are old enough to have phones now, but what if I didn’t allow phones in my house or they were too young? You need separate phone numbers for each player, including children (and overwatch 2, in my humble opinion, it’s very kid-friendly!)
In any case, it looks like Blizzard has relented at least to some extent. While the phone requirement hasn’t been completely removed, Blizzard has reduced the number of players required to have a phone associated with their account:
“Any Overwatch player with a linked 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. We are working on making this change and expect it to be released on Friday, October 7th. We will update players once it goes into effect.
“We remain committed to combating disruptive behavior in Overwatch 2—accounts that were not connected to Battle.net, as well as new accounts, will need to meet SMS protection requirements, which helps us ensure that we protect our community from deception. If a player is caught engaging in disruptive behavior, their account may be banned whether they have a new account or not.
“As a team, we will continue to listen to ongoing feedback and make further adjustments in this area as needed.”
Blizzard also made the following changes:
- Blizzard has removed the phone number requirements for the majority of existing Overwatch players.
- Any Overwatch player with a linked 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.
- Blizzard expects this change to go live on Friday, October 7th and will update players once it takes effect.
Queue times and connectivity issues
- Blizzard is working on patching servers to improve stability and increase connection reliability. They have addressed some issues and are in the process of addressing others, but players should expect to see queues in the short term.
- Much more detailed information in the forum post.
Missing data/player data
- About half of the reported cases of missing items are a result of players not yet completing their account merge, instructions for which are here. In the other half of reported cases for this issue, transferring and populating items from the original Overwatch to Overwatch 2 takes longer than expected.
- Blizzard is investigating multiple fixes for this, with more details in the forum post.
- However, most importantly, in all cases, no player assets have been erased or lost.
Incorrectly locked heroes and items for existing players
- Reconnecting to the game will resolve this issue in most cases.
- On release day, the above issues were exacerbated by DDoS attacks—while not directly causing any of these issues, they did make the work environment for resolving these issues more difficult.
- Blizzard has not suffered any further attacks.
Once again, this all seems like an unwarranted mistake that could have been avoided with proper planning and preparation. A major startup like this should have the server capacity to withstand both a massive influx of players and a DDoS attack. And with a little more logical thought, it seems pretty obvious that demanding a phone number (and excluding players with prepaid phone plans) would cause a huge headache and tons of backlash.
The right way to do this is to they motivate adding phone numbers instead of making it mandatory. Give away free skins or other goodies to anyone who sets up, for example, 2-factor authentication.
In any case, this was a pretty bad release as far as AAA video games go, but at least Blizzard seems to be responding quickly to these issues and making changes.