Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 comes out later this month, but there’s a surprise that many potential players didn’t see coming. According to a page on, Modern Warfare 2 players will be required to provide a phone number connected to a valid data plan. Additionally, VOIP and prepaid numbers won’t work.

This decision is apparently part of a company-wide initiative at Activision Blizzard to fight toxic behavior in its multiplayer games. We saw the policy in action last week at Overwatch 2’s launch, which led to controversy. In theory, this requirement will prevent abusive players (such as smurfs and boosters) from making new accounts, which means they’ll be held accountable for their actions.

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However, restricting VOIP and prepaid numbers might stop hackers from worming their way back into the system, but it also has the unfortunate side effect of blocking people who rely on such services from playing the game entirely. Given that Overwatch 2 is supposedly a free-to-play game, this would seem contrary to the company’s intentions. Additionally, given that prepaid phones are often cheaper than their competition, this policy definitely hits poor and underprivileged people the hardest, as well as kids who are too young to own their own phones.

While Overwatch 2 isn’t the first game to require a valid phone number to play online, reports from The Verge and the general playerbase suggest that is being much more strict about prepaid and VOIP phone plans than games like Dota 2. In response to the controversy, Activision Blizzard announced that they will waive the phone policy for those who played the original Overwatch and have a connected account. However, new users must still provide a phone number.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 releases on October 28. The sequel to 2019’s Modern Warfare reboot released its launch trailer last week.

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