‘Overwatch 2’ no longer blocks players with prepaid numbers

Gamers with prepaid phones can finally play Overlook 2. An Activision Blizzard community manager announced the changes on Thursday, reversing an overzealous anti-cheating move that had made it more difficult for new players to try out the game. The reversal came in the first-person shooter’s latest patch and is effective immediately.

Ahead of the game’s free-to-play early access period, which kicks off October 4, Blizzard had outlined a suite of moderation tools to prevent cheating and smurfing, including the postpaid number requirement. Banning prepaid numbers from SMS verification may have been a well-intentioned move to reduce toxic behavior, as it is much cheaper and easier for cheaters and trolls to set up prepaid numbers than postpaid numbers. But unfortunately, it also blocked prepaid users who acted in good faith from playing the game.

Blizzard’s other moderation tools are still in effect. Each Overlook 2 players must link a phone number to their Battle.net account to play, and that number cannot be linked to any other account. You still can’t use VOIP, Wi-Fi, text-only, and internet phone services to verify your account, so there’s no need to dust off that old Google Voice number as a workaround. If you played the original Overexpected, you don’t have to worry about SMS verification. Other moderation tools still in effect include audio transcriptions for reported voice chat recordings and automated review tools for browsing the resulting text.

It was a rough launch for Blizzard’s online first-person shooter. In addition to blocking prepaid users, Blizzard said a DDoS attack left players trapped in a queue behind tens of thousands of other gamers. Bugs have also riddled the game’s early access period, including items and currency missing, sections not filling, and other areas becoming inaccessible. Soon after, Blizzard announced freebies to compensate players for the slow rollout.

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