With the release of Overwatch 2, many players of the original game are going to eagerly jump into the new 5v5 format and try out the latest heroes, maps, and other new features brought to the game. However, with the SMS Protect implementation, players have to first connect a valid phone number to their Battle.net account before they can play Overwatch 2. Why is this?
Why do you need a phone number to play Overwatch 2?
Update: Blizzard has updated the SMS Protect program to allow anyone who has used a Battle.net account in Overwatch between June 9, 2021 and Overwatch 2’s launch on October 4, 2022 to not need a phone number to access the game. New accounts made after this time will be required to use the program.
Original: There are two big reasons why you have to have an active phone number to play Overwatch 2. The first is to protect players in case someone hacks their way into your Battle.net account.
The second, and bigger reason why the game requires a phone number is the SMS Protect program. Because every phone number can only be applied to one Battle.net account at a time, it forces players to be held accountable when they are caught cheating and cannot quickly swap to another account when the previous one gets banned. This makes the price of creating a new account much higher for people who would exploit the game and its community.
Additionally, there is an additional knock-on effect that helps fight the smurf problem that plagued the first game. Since the game is now free-to-play, Overwatch 2 needs some kind of barrier to prevent people who would otherwise negatively impact the game from creating multiple accounts easily and continuing to exploit the system.
Since SMS Protect does not work with prepaid and VOIP phones, there are some people who will be negatively impacted by this move. Blizzard has not announced any changes for the feature as of this writing, so hopefully not too many people who genuinely just want to play the game are affected by the harder security in the game.