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Overwatch 2 launched on October 4 with high expectations from fans and investors alike. However, even developer Blizzard Entertainment acknowledged in a blog post that the sequel to the 2016 breakout hit has had a rough launch.
Three main issues have troubled Overwatch 2’s launch on a technical level: a new security feature dubbed SMS Protect, unstable servers and two major Directed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Each of these issues and additional bugs have prevented many players from playing the game at all.
SMS Protect was a security feature included in Blizzard’s anti-toxicity initiative: Defense Matrix. The feature initially required Overwatch 2 players to connect their account to a cell phone number. But not any cell phone number would do. Prepaid cell phones and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) plans were blocked in an effort to prevent disruptive players from having a cheap way to circumvent their bans.
However, this meant that fans who did not use a contract phone plan would be prevented from accessing the game altogether. This upset fans of the original title who were affected by SMS Protect because Blizzard had also shut down access to the original Overwatch ahead of the sequel’s launch.
If players are able to make an account, they are also experiencing long queue times with inconsistent queue numbers. There are also frequent reports of players disconnecting mid-match due to server instability. These issues are making it difficult to experience the game as intented.
This was further complicated when the game was hit with two back-to-back DDoS attacks hours after Overwatch 2 launched.
Blizzard’s developers are clearly working to resolve these issues. For example, the SMS Protect requirement was dropped for existing Overwatch accounts that are linked to a Battle.net account. This applies to all accounts created before June 9, 2021. However, new accounts will still need to be linked to a contract phone number.
With Activision Blizzard’s merger with Microsoft looming in the background, Blizzard’s handling of Overwatch 2 could have long-term implications for the franchise and the Overwatch League. Blizzard is banking on this relaunch to bring in new fans. But these technical issues may have turned off otherwise interested players. While it’s not unheard of for a game to bounce back and become successful after a rocky launch, Overwatch 2 only gets one chance to make a first impression on potential players.
While Activision Blizzard’s stock price has remained relatively stable during the launch, fans’ confidence will remain shaken until the game is in a better state and their other concerns are address.
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