‘Overwatch 2’ no longer blocks players with prepaid numbers

Although the postpaid number requirement was meant to block cheaters, it also kept innocent players from trying the game.


Gamers with prepaid phones can finally play Overwatch 2. An Activision Blizzard community manager announced the changes on Thursday, reversing an overzealous anti-cheating move that had made it harder for new players to check 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 launched on October 4th, Blizzard had outlined a series of moderation tools to prevent cheating and smurfing, including the postpaid number requirement. Banning prepaid numbers from SMS verification may have been a well-intended move to reduce toxic behavior, as it’s much cheaper and easier for cheaters and trolls to set up prepaid numbers than postpaid ones. But unfortunately, it also blocked prepaid users acting in good faith from playing the game.

Blizzard’s other moderation tools are still in effect. Every Overwatch 2 player needs to connect a phone number to their Battle.net account to play, and that number can’t be tied to another account. You still can’t use VOIP, WiFi, text-only and internet phone services to verify your account, so you can forget about dusting off that old Google Voice number as a workaround. If you played the original Overwatch, you don't need to worry about SMS verification. Other moderation tools still in effect include audio transcriptions for reported voice chat recordings and automated review tools for poring through the resulting text.

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