Overwatch 2
Image: Blizzard

Update #2 [Sat 8th Oct, 2022 11:30 BST]: Blizzard has begun to roll out the update that removes the phone number requirement for existing Overwatch players and Battle.net users. So you should now be able to log in and play without attaching your mobile. This will not apply to new Battle.net sign ups. See the previous updates below for more information.

Update: Blizzard has just shared an update on its website - revealing it will be loosening phone number requirements for a majority of existing Overwatch players. However, new accounts will still have to meet the SMS Protect requirements. Here are the full details in its official forum update:

"We designed Overwatch 2 to be a live service, which enables us to be responsive to a variety of player feedback. We have made the decision to remove phone number requirements for a majority of existing Overwatch players. Any Overwatch player with a connected Battle.net account, which includes all players who have played since June 9, 2021, will not have to provide a phone number to play. We are working to make this change and expect it to go live on Friday, October 7. We will update players once it is in effect.

"We remain committed to combating disruptive behavior in Overwatch 2—accounts that were not connected to Battle.net as well as new accounts will still have to meet SMS Protect requirements, which helps to ensure we’re protecting our community against cheating. If a player is caught engaging in disruptive behavior, their account may be banned whether they have a new account or not. As a team, we will keep listening to ongoing feedback and will make further adjustments in this area if it is required."

Original article: Blizzard launched Overwatch 2 earlier this week, and it's been a bit of a disaster - with long queues and connection issues.

It seems some people can't even get past the login screen due to the free-to-play game's new "defence matrix" which requires users to have a phone number linked to their account in order to play. It's all part of Blizzard's two-factor authentication system, but it seems to be causing a serious headache for some heroes.

One post on the Overwatch subreddit, which has now generated more than 700 comments, highlights how a lot of pre-paid mobile users in certain locations around the world aren't able to use their phone number to "SMS Protect" their account. It essentially leaves them with no option but to sit out on the sidelines or consider a new provider.

"Let's Discuss not allowing "Pre-Paid" Phones - Uh, so I'll be blunt. Many individuals across the world (i.e., especially in low economic areas) use pre-paid plans. Many providers (i.e., such as MetroPCS) use only pre-paid plans. Now, you're telling me I cannot play a game that I purchased back in 2016 because of my phone plan? That's pretty demoralizing, and honestly, it's very oppressive that you need to worry about your financial status just to play a f***ing video game that's supposed to distract you from real-world occurrences.

"Imagine walking into a bank and them refusing to allow you to open up an account with them just because of what type of phone service you use (i.e., or provider, such as MetroPCS). It's oppressive, and it's honestly disgusting. Blizzard fix this."

Some users in particular parts of the world have noted how it's not necessarily a pre-paid phone issue, as their own pre-paid devices work. Some think it's more related to certain mobile providers and ones that don't require the user to provide identification to purchase. A story on Kotaku notes how this is mostly impacting US players right now:

"Blizzard’s phone restrictions seem to primarily and widely impair U.S. prepaid phone plan users...Prepaid phone users in other countries have reported being able to log into the game problem-free, which some players speculate could either be because their country necessitates identification in order to purchase a prepaid phone, or because Blizzard has only banned known prepaid phone plans."

Some users are now even calling for an alternative to SMS Protect. Blizzard previously explained it was adding this new requirement to give users an extra layer of security, and so it can reduce cheating and disruptive behaviour in-game.

How has your own experience been with Overwatch 2 so far? Have you had any mobile-related issues? Tell us in the comments.