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Blizzard apologizes for Overwatch 2 launch issues, amends botched SMS Protect

The studio said it will strive to hold itself "to a higher standard."

Chris Kerr, News Editor

October 6, 2022

3 Min Read
Hero artwork from Overwatch 2

Blizzard has issued an apology to players after Overwatch 2 failed to hit the ground running.

The free-to-play team shooter debuted earlier this week, but was targeted with a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack within hours of launch, causing notable connection issues and preventing some players from accessing the title.

Another feature designed to protect players has also caused issues, with many on social media platforms pointing out that SMS Protect – which initially required all players across all platforms to attach a phone number to their battle.net account to launch Overwatch 2 – was actually preventing those with pre-paid phones from accessing the live service title.

In response to the issue of SMS Protect, Blizzard says it has tweaked the system to remove phone number requirements for a majority of existing Overwatch players in a bid to give its core community a free pass.

"Any Overwatch player with a connected Battle.net account, which includes all players who have played since June 9, 2021, will not have to provide a phone number to play. We are working to make this change and expect it to go live on Friday, October 7. We will update players once it is in effect," said the studio in a forum post.

"We remain committed to combating disruptive behavior in Overwatch 2 — accounts that were not connected to Battle.net as well as new accounts will still have to meet SMS Protect requirements, which helps to ensure we’re protecting our community against cheating. If a player is caught engaging in disruptive behavior, their account may be banned whether they have a new account or not."

There have been other issues too, such as problems with Account Merge that's currently preventing players from pulling over their in-game inventory from the original Overwatch to the sequel, incorrectly locked heroes and items for existing players, and queue issues, server crashes, and stability hiccups.

All-in-all, Blizzard says its working on fixes for all of the above, but has warned players expecting a quick remedy that there might still be a few speed bumps in the short-term.

"We have addressed some issues and are in the process of addressing others, but players should still expect to see queues," said the company, explaining how it's attempting to deliver a more stable experience.

"Login queues, server crashes, and stability problems are intertwined, so we’ll talk about them together. Players may have been seeing their queue numbers jumping around, going from a small number to a larger number. This is due to there being two queues for players—one through Battle.net, then one through the game itself. This process is usually invisible to players, but was being seen in real time. We have made changes to simplify the queuing process, so players should now only be experiencing the one queue before entering the game.

"We are also currently throttling queues in order to protect the player database as much as we can while we scale—this feels bad in the short-term, but once it’s done, will greatly improve the experience for players across multiple fronts moving forward."

Ultimately, Blizzard conceded that the Overwatch 2 launch has been less than ideal, and said it will strive to "hold ourselves to a higher standard" work hard to resolve the issues affecting players.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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