Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II will require players to register with a phone number on Battle.net in order to play. This will make players more responsible for what they do. The game will come out on October 28th, which is still this month.
PCGamer says it’s the same thing that caused trouble for Overwatch 2 players last week. On a Battle.net support page, the upcoming Call of Duty shooter is listed alongside Overwatch 2 and 2019’s Modern Warfare as games that “require that you add a phone number to your Battle.net account” to play.
The phone verification system, which Activision Blizzard calls SMS Protect, is meant to stop players from acting badly by stopping them from making a lot of new accounts to get around bans or cheating. Activision Blizzard’s support page says, “Limiting the number of free accounts a single person can make helps keep players accountable for their actions, which in turn cuts down on negativity and cheating and makes sure that all players have a good time in the community.”
“The phone notification service might not work on phones with prepaid plans.”
The problem is that SMS Protect was made for mobile phones that can send and receive text messages, so it doesn’t treat all phone numbers the same. On a separate Battle.net support page, it says that “the phone notification service may not work with mobile phones with prepaid plans.” Also, VoIP numbers don’t work with it. This means that only people with postpaid cell phone plans can use the service, which may not be cheap or easy for many people worldwide.
One Modern Warfare II beta player told PCGamer last month that they were asked for a “postpaid phone number” to start the game, and Battle.net wouldn’t accept the number for their prepaid Cricket Wireless plan. They said, “It seems wrong to make video game players sign a contract with a telecom company before they can play the game they paid for.”
Dota 2 and Rainbow Six Siege both require players to provide a phone number for ranked play, but there haven’t been many reports of problems with prepaid phone plans when this has been done in the past. One player we talked to couldn’t play Overwatch 2 because they used the same number they had used for years to play Dota 2.
It’s not clear if Activision Blizzard’s phone number requirements will be the same for both Battle.net and Steam Modern Warfare II players since the game is available on both digital PC stores. Some Reddit users who tried to play the beta through Steam said they were asked for a phone number, while others said they were not. Right now, the only way to get Overwatch 2 is through Battle.net.
In the case of Overwatch 2, Activision Blizzard has said that anyone who played the first Overwatch and has a connected Battle.net account will no longer have to use SMS Protect. It’s not clear if Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II players will get the same breaks. When The Verge asked for a comment from the company, a representative did not answer right away.