A new update from COD's Ricochet Anti-Cheat Team (opens in new tab) is trying to soothe players who are worried about Modern Warfare 2's SMS verification requirement. The post from Team Ricochet confirms that Modern Warfare 2 players on PC will need a "text-enabled mobile phone number" to verify their accounts and play the game, but it's very specific about that PC part: players on consoles won't have to verify themselves via SMS at all.
But even for us PC players, Team Ricochet says the requirement won't affect people who have already verified themselves for Call of Duty: Warzone. MW2's (and Warzone 2.0's) SMS verification system on Battle.net is the same one that's existed in Call of Duty: Warzone for the last two years, so legacy players won't have to re-verify for access. Unless you're going to play MW2 on Steam (opens in new tab), that is, in which case you'll need a mobile number linked to your Steam account before you can play.
The update promises that your phone number will only be used for security reasons, and that the game "does not use SMS verification data for marketing purposes".
The measure is being implemented to combat the "illicit account market" and cheating. For a while there, cheaters were able to play Warzone without verifying themselves if they accessed it through 2019's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which led to the implementation of the SMS verification system in MW1 back in August this year. The team wants to avoid that happening again.
The whole post feels like an attempt to sidestep the furore that kicked off around Overwatch 2's SMS security system this month. Overwatch 2 was originally going to force both new and old players to verify themselves with a mobile number before getting such a deluge of complaints that the policy was eventually dropped for legacy players (opens in new tab). The game also attracted criticism for requiring phone numbers from both console and PC players, which MW2 is pointedly not doing.
COD hasn't dropped everything that people didn't like about Overwatch 2's SMS security system, though. Prepaid phones are still a no-go (opens in new tab), which upset plenty of Overwatch fans earlier this month.
We'll see how well COD pulls it off when Modern Warfare 2 releases on Steam (opens in new tab) and Battle.net (opens in new tab) on October 28 (with preorders getting access to the campaign on October 20). So far it's looking pretty good: the trailers drip with enjoyable COD nonsense (opens in new tab) and the PC features are looking very expansive indeed (opens in new tab). You just might have to get your phone out before you can enjoy them.