Overwatch 2 is now live, and some diving players will be surprised to learn that they need to link a phone number to their Battle.net account in order to play. This new requirement wasn’t fully explained when it was first announced, but more recently, Blizzard has provided more information about why the new SMS protection requirement was deemed necessary: cheaters.
All Overwatch 2 players, even those who purchased the original Overwatch and those playing on consoles, will need to link a phone number to their Battle.net account in order to play. The same phone number cannot be used for multiple accounts and Blizzard does not accept prepaid and VOIP numbers.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Blizzard explained that the change is to prevent bad actors from being able to use cheats and go through multiple additional accounts that all share the same phone number. Previously, Overwatch’s box price served as a cost when it came to banning players and having to create a new account. Now that the game is free-to-play, the barrier to entry is much lower, so Blizzard needed some other solution.
“We’re quite actively trying to identify and find users who have abnormal gameplay, distinct gameplay behavior, or are detected by any cheating fingerprints that we might do,” Overwatch 2 lead software engineer Bill Warnecke said. “But if that player bans that account and can come right back with a new account, then all the tracking in the world won’t stop us from keeping bad actors out of the game. We have to make the cost of being willing to cheat a little more for those players. Losing an account in Overwatch 2 is a much more significant penalty than it was in Overwatch 1.”
Warnecke said there will be cases of “good” players with no bad intentions who have multiple accounts adversely affected by the phone number requirement, something Blizzard “took very seriously.” However, at the end of the day it was decided that being able to fight bad actors more effectively took precedence over legitimate players playing on multiple accounts.
Blizzard recently unveiled its “Defense Matrix Initiative,” which includes SMS Protect, but also outlines how onboarding for new players of Overwatch 2 will work. This onboarding process, called the First Time User Experience, will see new players gradually unlock modes and heroes during the 100 match game. Blizzard said the First Time User Experience will also help identify bad actors, as it will take time for new accounts created by cheaters to unlock additional heroes and the game’s competitive playlist, giving Blizzard more time to identify them. and ban them before they become too annoying. .
Overwatch 2 sees a number of big changes from the original multiplayer shooter. In addition to being free to play, Overwatch 2 does away with loot boxes in favor of a battle system. It also requires existing players to unlock new heroes (excluding Junker Queen, Sojourn, and Kiriko) by either purchasing the game’s premium battle pass or eliminating the game’s free battle pass, a change that has upset many in its community Overwatch. For more, check out Overwatch 2 in progress.
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