in Gaming

Blizzard announces phone number verification requirement to play Modern Warfare 2

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will now require players to connect a phone number to a valid data plan before playing. The requirement has been applied to newly created Overwatch 2 accounts and newly created Call of Duty: Modern Warfare accounts as well, according to Blizzard.

This decision is part of a larger effort by Blizzard to prevent abusive players such as smurfs and boosters from creating new accounts. Modern Warfare 2 uses the skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) system to match players with similar skill levels, and players can take advantage of the system’s flaws in what is called “reverse boosting.”

Reverse boosting refers to when players trick the SBMM system into placing them in easier lobbies by killing or allowing themselves to be killed repeatedly. With SMS verification, however, it will be easier to ban and prevent reverse boosters from creating these unfair and imbalanced sessions.

Phone number verification

According to Blizzard, phone number verification is also required for account security. Notifications will be sent after suspicious login attempts, password changes and security feature changes. Players can also recover lost account information and unlock their accounts without entering a password.

“Adding a phone number will allow Blizzard Entertainment to send you notifications when important changes are made to your account,” the Battle.net support site reads.

The service is incompatible with VOIP and prepaid numbers to prevent hackers from breaching their way into the system. As a result, those who do not have a data plan contract will be unable to play Modern Warfare 2 entirely.

The eligibility and limitations of the phone number verification system are as follows:

• Apps such as iMessage (iOS) and WhatsApp (iOS, Android) are not supported for this service

• Prepaid phones may not be compatible with the phone notification service

• Phone notifications are incompatible with Voice over IP (VoIP), and VoIP numbers transferred to a local provider are ineligible for the service

“Any mobile phone in a supported country with a data plan, and that is not prepaid or a VOIP number, can be used with this service,” Blizzard wrote on the Battle.net support site.

Recent controversy caused by same policy

The same policy sparked outrage when another Blizzard game, Overwatch 2, was released last week. In order to play the game, the vast majority of players would be required to link a phone number to their accounts.

Because prepaid phones are commonly less costly, the policy was seen to disproportionately affect the poor and underprivileged, as well as players who do not own phones. Many players saw it as “punishment for being poor,” particularly those with prepaid, landline or VOIP phones.

Blizzard responded to the criticism by announcing that only new users would be required to provide a valid postpaid phone number. Those who played the original Overwatch and have a Battle.net account are exempt from the policy, however, they still must comply with SMS protection requirements.

An upset player said, “This seems very wrong to require videogame players to enter into a contract with a telecom company before being allowed to play the game they paid for.”

It is unknown at this point whether Blizzard will alter its policy for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 as well.