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Activision not backing down on SMS verification for new Call of Duty PC players

In Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0.

New Call of Duty players on PC will still need to verify their identity via an SMS message - even though Activision's other half Blizzard rolled back the unpopular requirement for Overwatch 2 following its beleaguered launch.

In a new blog post, Activision confirmed it would require a text-enabled mobile phone number to play the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 on PC, and also Warzone 2.0.

This will not apply on console, however, or to anyone on PC who verified their account to play the existing Warzone previously.

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The key issue here is Warzone 2.0, which as a free-to-play game is an easy target for cheaters. Modern Warfare 2, meanwhile, offers a method of playing Warzone 2.0 - so is being caught up in the crossfire.

Activision has called SMS verification "critical" to its anti-cheat enforcement efforts, as it stops players simply starting new accounts if they are banned. In August, the company introduced SMS verification for 2019's Modern Warfare to combat cheating in Warzone.

"As the illicit account market adjusted to our security enforcement, #TeamRICOCHET started seeing more cheaters attempt to access Warzone from Modern Warfare to bypass the SMS policy," Activision wrote, discussing its Richochet anti-cheat initiative. "The security team recommended the update to further combat the illicit account market."

Activision has said it will not use your phone number for anything other than security - so don't expect marketing messages.

On Overwatch 2, Blizzard initially said it needed to introduce SMS verification for new Overwatch players due to the game's move to becoming a free-to-play service.

However, the developer faced criticism after some US-based players found it was also blocking some phone numbers linked to Pay as You Go SIM cards - which had the unintended consequence of disproportionately excluding players on the lower-income scale or with a poor credit score, who may have been unable to take out a monthly contract.

Modern Warfare 2 arrives later this month on 28th October. Warzone 2.0, the free-to-play battle royale sequel to the original Warzone, arrives a little later on 16th November.