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Modern Warfare 2’s phone number requirement isn’t the same as Overwatch 2’s

Warzone players who have already verified their accounts are exempt

Ghost from Modern Warfare 2 (2022) stares at the camera through his skull mask while a green flash of light appears to the left of his head Image: Infinity Ward/Activision
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will require PC players to use the same SMS text message verification process that frustrated Overwatch 2’s launch for many, but with an important exception: Any existing Call of Duty: Warzone players who have already verified their accounts won’t be required to give a real, text-enabled phone number to play Modern Warfare 2.

Team Ricochet, Activision’s anti-cheat team for Call of Duty, pointed out that the SMS policy for Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0 — which launch Oct. 28 and Nov. 16, respectively — is the same as the verification requirement implemented with the first Warzone on PC back in May 2020. For those playing Modern Warfare 2 on Steam, a mobile phone number must also be linked to the player’s Steam account, the studio said.

“SMS verification is critical to our anti-cheat enforcement efforts,” the developers said in a blog post on Thursday. The studio said the verification requirement thwarts “illicit account creation at its source.”

They added that, earlier this year, it implemented an SMS verification requirement for 2019’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, after discovering that cheaters were using that game client to access Warzone without SMS verification.

One week ago, Blizzard Entertainment largely abandoned their “SMS Protect” initiative for Overwatch 2, in light of extensive launch problems that resulted in server errors, disconnections, and progress and items not transferring for many players.

Though Blizzard said SMS verification was critical to efforts to eliminate cheaters and stop toxic behavior, the measure was instantly controversial for many players, especially those whose prepaid cell phone plans didn’t support the kind of SMS authentication the system requires.

The requirement does not affect players on console versions of Modern Warfare 2. The game, a sequel to Infinity Ward’s critical and commercial success Call of Duty: Modern Warfare from 2019, launches for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X on Oct. 28.

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