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Activision Reconfirms MW2/Warzone 2.0 Will Require Phone Account Authentication

Earlier this week, an update to the official Activision Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 website confirmed that for gamers to access the upcoming title, they would require having an account with a verified phone number attached to it. – While clearly representing, on the surface, a solid form of two-factor authentication, reading between the lines, the real reason behind this was crystal clear. Namely, Activision knew that in order to best help combat cheaters, being able to ban accounts and a phone number associated with it would represent one of the most practical methods. Particularly given that Warzone 2.0 (likely set for release in circa March 2023) would be a free-to-play title.

While the move has predominantly been met with mixed feelings, however, growing voices have been asking Activision to consider removing this need for a phone number. Particularly since it’s been reported that those attempting to register Pay As You Go (PAYG) phones haven’t been able to do so. – Following their latest blog post, however, while Activision has clarified that this requirement will only apply to PC gamers (again, highlighting that this is more about cheating than account protection) they still appear pretty adamant that if you won’t associate a phone number to your battle.net account, you won’t be able to play either Modern Warfare 2 or Warzone 2.0.

Modern Warfare 2 & Warzone 2.0 – No Phone? Then No Play!

As part of the blog post, Activision has at least clarified a number of key questions the community had in regard to this move. Specifically focusing on the phone aspect, however, they have said:

“A text-enabled mobile phone number is required to play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II on PC. Existing Call of Duty®: Warzone™ players that have previously verified their account will not be required to provide any additional information to access Modern Warfare II and Warzone™ 2.0.
The SMS policy for Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2.0 on Battle.net is the same as the requirement for Call of Duty: Warzone on PC, which was implemented in May 2020. A mobile phone number must be linked to your Steam Account to play Modern Warfare II on that platform.

SMS verification is critical to our anti-cheat enforcement efforts, tackling illicit account creation at its source. This helps our security team to maintain account and game security in order to provide a safe, fair, and fun gaming experience for all our players. In August 2022, we updated the SMS policy for new players of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare (2019), requiring a text-enabled mobile phone number to play the game. Prior to this change, new accounts in Modern Warfare could access Warzone without a SMS security check. As the illicit account market adjusted to our security enforcement, #TeamRICOCHET started seeing more cheaters attempt to access Warzone from Modern Warfare to bypass the SMS policy, so the security team recommended the update to further combat the illicit account market.

The SMS requirement for game access is used for security purposes only. Call of Duty does not use SMS verification data for marketing purposes.”

Why I Support Activision in This Move!

Cheating was a huge problem in Call of Duty Modern Warfare and especially so in Warzone. It was, ultimately, an issue that led many of my friends to completely disable crossplay in the titles and only activate it when gaming with me. – And let’s be blunt here, cheating is predominantly a PC gaming problem.

It clearly sucks that Activision feels compelled to do this, but, let’s be honest, for all their efforts, their cheat detection system has always seemed to be one step behind the people who create these hacks. – Albeit, in this regard, there is some positive news as in part of the blog post Activision did confirm that while RICOCHET was enabled in the BETA, it wasn’t fully unleashed (pretty much confirming a theory I had that they were testing its effectiveness of spotting/identifying cheaters ahead of the official release).

The bottom line though is that I’d rather have a phone number associated with my account and know that, all going well, this might eventually help see cheaters dwindle than carry on in the hope that Activision’s RICOCHET might once actually get ahead of the game. It is, of course, easy to set up a new account in a free-to-play game should you get banned. It is, however, much harder to get a new phone number and particularly so if Activision isn’t accepting those on PAYG contracts.

If you do, however, want to learn more, you can check out the full blog post here!

What do you think? – Let us know in the comments!

Mike Sanders

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