Like Blizzard's Overwatch 2, the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II will require players to use a system known as SMS Protect, where they must register a phone number in order to participate in multiplayer. According to a recent post on the Battle.net forums, this method of two-factor authentication is required to play some Activision Blizzard games, including Infinity Ward's shooter.
"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, newly created Overwatch 2 accounts, and newly created Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019) accounts, require that you add a phone number to your Battle.net account," begins the post.
Fine print on Modern Warfare II's Steam page employs similar language, saying "a phone number must be linked to your Steam account to play."
A separate Battle.net post confirms that those with prepaid phone plans will be ineligible for Modern Warfare II multiplayer. However, as the game releases later in the month, the potential exists for Infinity Ward to employ a similar leniency as Blizzard and remove or tweak the requirement.
SMS Protect hurt more Overwatch 2 players than it helped
Blizzard announced SMS Protect shortly before Overwatch 2's release last week, in an attempt to curb down on player toxicity via what it referred to as the "Defense Matrix." SMS Protect is used to verify that players own their Battle.net account, and that phone number can only be used on one account at a time.
Amidst Overwatch 2's range of launch problems, SMS Protect quickly became one of its most noteworthy. Players who use prepaid phone plans took to social media to express their feelings of exclusion due to the requirement of a phone number from a major carrier.
In response, Blizzard removed the requirement for most Overwatch players. As of October 7, those with previously connected Battle.net accounts, and players who've played Overwatch 1 since summer 2021, no longer have to register phone numbers.
However, wholly new accounts and accounts that weren't already linked to Battle.net still have to meet the SMS requirement. "If a player is caught engaging in disruptive behavior, their account may be banned whether they have a new account or not," wrote Blizzard.