Activision Blizzard has relaxed its SMS verification rules, and now allows players to now link their Battle.net accounts with a prepaid (pay-as-you-go) mobile phone number.
SMS Protect is a system first rolled out in Overwatch 2 that is designed to stop banned players from creating new accounts and continuing to play. It was later extended to Call of Duty.
The system was controversial at launch as players with prepaid phone numbers were unable to enroll. This disproportionately affected those on the lower end of the income scale who are unable to, or simply cannot afford a pay monthly phone contract.
https://t.co/M9cxbpOXCU will now accept pre-paid phones globally in an update set to finish rolling out tomorrow.#TeamRICOCHET remains committed to fighting unfair play. Learn more at https://t.co/awfC9dDzly https://t.co/4QnSN6vTZ7— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) November 17, 2022
Blizzard later backtracked on this requirement for legacy players of the original Overwatch, but new players still required a pay monthly phone number.
Now, prepaid numbers will be accepted globally for both Overwatch 2 and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2/Warzone 2.0.
While this move will be welcome by many, it isn't without its drawbacks. Prepaid numbers were restricted from the system in the first place, as in much of the world, it is trivial for anyone to get their hands on a new prepaid phone number. A determined cheater could simply pick up a new SIM card if they are banned and create a new account.
Both of Activision Blizzard's respective brands have been quick to reassure players that it is committed towards combating cheating. Time will tell how effective its measures are.