Overwatch 2 will require phone numbers, voice recording consent to combat player toxicity

Fighting toxic behavior by any means.

Image via Blizzard Entertainment

Gameplay integrity is at the forefront of Activision Blizzard’s mind as the release of Overwatch 2 approaches, and the developers have released their “Defensive Matrix Initiative” plan that will combat negative gameplay experiences such as general toxicity and smurfing. This initiative, with the best intentions, might come with some controversy as it will require players to have a phone number and consent to voice recording.

Blizzard outlined their goals to promote positive behavior through a set of goals that include “[nurturing] programs that will ensure a positive experience for all players,” as well as “[ensuring] competitive integrity” and “[creating] a safer community.” With this, once Overwatch 2 drops on October 4, you’ll have to link your phone number if you want to play.

SMS Protect will hopefully combat cheating and disruptive behavior, which should in theory make your competitive climb a little less torturous. Naturally, you’ll only be able to use a phone number only one time, but you also won’t be able to use prepaid/VOIP phone lines. This will inevitably isolate a sizable amount of the playerbase, which Blizzard will likely have to navigate at some point.

What may be more or less controversial depending on who you ask are audio transcriptions, which will allow Blizzard to “collect a temporary voice chat recording of a reported player and automatically transcribe it through speech to text programs.” This transcription will then be analyzed by chat review tools, which will identify toxic behavior.

These systems will go into place as Overwatch 2 drops on October 4, so get your phone numbers out if you want to experience the new free-to-play version of Overwatch. You’re going to want to check out all the new maps coming to the game, as well as get in there and start earning rewards via the battle pass.