Blizzard has rolled out a new Monitor 2 patch that includes balance changes for several heroes, a Mei bug fix that allows her to return to the game, and much more.
One of the biggest updates, and one that isn’t mentioned in the patch notes, is to the SMS Protect system, a controversial aspect of Blizzard’s plan to prevent banned cheaters and toxic players from return to free play. Starting today, players who haven’t purchased Monitoring 1 will be able to use a prepaid mobile phone to access Monitor 2.
“Starting today, Blizzard is expanding global access to SMS Protect to prepaid phones, welcoming more players to Overwatch 2 and continuing its commitment to combating disruptive behavior and protecting the integrity of the user experience. players,” a Blizzard spokesperson said. “This update may take several hours to fully roll out.”
Blizzard provided more details in a forum post. Not all prepaid phone services will be supported, although Blizzard expects most to be. “While we expect most prepaid service plans to be eligible now, mobile carriers sometimes define their plans differently,” wrote community manager Andy Belford. VOIP, Wi-Fi, text, and Internet phone services are still not supported, and each phone number can only be registered to one Battle.net account.
This is the latest development in a major shift from the original stance of requiring all players to connect a post-paid mobile number to their Battle.net account. Blizzard quickly dropped this requirement for most people who came from Monitoring 1 — veteran players do not need to connect a phone to their account. However, the system still prevented many potential new players from checking out. Monitor 2.
Blizzard has other ways to detect cheaters and toxic players, as well as measures designed to protect the game and decent players from these jerks (though you may still encounter some jerks on occasion). There’s a new system, for example, that allows Blizzard to review voice chat transcripts after a player has been reported. Allowing new accounts to register a prepaid phone won’t necessarily open the floodgates to more toxicity, although smurfing might be more problematic. In any case, as Belford noted, “since the introduction of Defense Matrix, our new initiative to stop disruptive actors in Overwatch 2, we’ve successfully taken action on thousands of accounts that we believe violate Blizzard’s in-game code of conduct.
Ultimately, one of Overwatch’s core principles is inclusiveness. Lowering the barrier to entry for new players, especially those without access to a post-paid phone, is a positive move for accessibility after many people have been left behind. Hopefully this will fix the issue that Cricket Wireless and Metro by T-Mobile users are having when linking their phones. Plus, it could help Blizzard increase that already impressive player count.
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