Overwatch 2 will no longer require existing Overwatch players to cough up a phone number, as Blizzard rolls back the controversial anti-cheat system. TechRadar reports: All Overwatch 2 players were originally required to link an active phone number to their Battle.net account to play the hero shooter. Blizzard hoped the SMS Protect authentication system would help users verify their accounts, and prevent disruptive and abusive players from returning to the game after being banned. […] Overwatch’s phone number authentication system has proven controversial among the game’s community. Several types of phone numbers, including those linked to pre-paid SIM cards and VOIP phones, can’t be used for authentication, locking many would-be players out of the sequel. Even those who’d purchased the original Overwatch — which was replaced by the free-to-play sequel and is no longer accessible — originally found themselves unable to play Overwatch 2 if they didn’t have a phone number of the right type. Similarly, many who’d bought the game’s Watchpoint Pack ahead of its launch found they couldn’t access the game to enjoy the $39.99 starter bundle.
“We have made the decision to remove phone number requirements for a majority of existing Overwatch players,” Blizzard said in a forum post announcing the end of the system. “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.” But the policy change won’t benefit everyone. Blizzard says: “Accounts that were not connected to Battle.net, as well as new accounts, will still have to meet SMS Protect requirements.”