Bad news: Activision Blizzard isn't budging from the controversial SMS security feature.
Despite the fan backlash, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will still push through with its SMS verification requirement. Team Ricochet dropped a new update confirming this unfortunate bit of news, but there's a silver lining: it only applies to PC players.
The update specifically outlines the PC port, saying:
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.
It's not all bad news. Team Ricochet claims this change will not affect players with existing verified accounts for Warzone and players won't have to re-verify to gain access to the new game. But, since Warzone isn't available on Steam, you'll still need a mobile number linked to your Steam account if you want to play MW2. It's not clear if the restrictions against prepaid numbers will apply to Valve's digital games distribution platform.
Team Ricochet clarifies that SMS verification is exclusively for security reasons and it will not "use SMS verification data for marketing purposes."
TLDR; Activision Blizzard really just want to cut down on cheaters in Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2.0.
You can't exactly blame Activision Blizzard for taking extreme measures against cheating. Keep in mind that Call of Duty is still very popular. Even if it lost players, there are roughly a hundred million people playing Call of Duty collectively on any given day, and there will be a lot more once Warzone 2 and Modern Warfare 2 arrive. Although SMS verification isn't an ideal solution, it helps.
Keep in mind that the company has plenty of experience fighting against cheaters over the years. Case in point, back in 2019, cheaters bought accounts en masse to fight against the massive ban waves that happened with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare.
We'll find out how well Call of Duty will pull off this controversial feature once it arrives on the 28th (pre-orders will get access to the single-player campaign on the 20th.
So far, Modern Warfare 2 is looking pretty sweet on the PC. As a bonus, players will receive freebies for completing the single-player campaign. You'll just have to think of the SMS verification as a necessary evil to enjoy the game.