Modern Warfare 2 and Overwatch 2 drop prepaid phone restrictions

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(Image credit: Activision)
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Activision has eliminated the restrictions on prepaid mobile phones for Battle.net's 2FA system, meaning that everyone with a mobile phone—no matter what kind—will be able to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Overwatch 2.

Activision and Blizzard came under fire over the 2FA system, called SMS Protect (opens in new tab), in October—not because of the phone number requirement, which other games including Dota 2 (opens in new tab) and Rainbow Six Siege (opens in new tab) also require, but because it would not accept prepaid mobile phones or VOIP. If you wanted to play two of the biggest games of the year, in other words, you had to be signed up for a mobile phone contract, something an awful lot of people are choosing not to do (opens in new tab) as prepaid wireless services become more flexible and competitive.

Locking out a large number of potential players was a baffling choice, but the situation grew even worse almost immediately. While many players confirmed that their prepaid mobiles would not work with SMS Protect, some people, including our associate editor and Overwatch 2 reviewer Tyler Colp, said their prepaids did work with it (opens in new tab). So instead of a definitive "no," which sucks but at least leaves no doubt about what's happening, there was confusion.

An update shared later in the month clarified that the phone number requirement would not apply to console players (opens in new tab), and that PC players who had previously verified themselves for Call of Duty: Warzone; a similar loosening of the phone requirement was extended to Overwatch 2 players on October 7. But now, everything is a whole lot simpler, because as long as you've got a phone, you're set.

Overwatch 2 was the first to announce that SMS Protect will ditch the prepaid restriction, following an update that will go live tomorrow, November 18.

(Image credit: Blizzard (via Twitter))
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The Call of Duty Twitter account followed shortly after.

(Image credit: Infinity Ward (via Twitter))
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No reason for the change was given, but I've reached out to Activision and Blizzard to ask and will update if I receive a reply. In the meantime, it's definitely good news for everyone who isn't already playing either game: If you want to get into it, now you can.

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.