Infinity Ward and Activision have taken the unusual step of making two-step verification a requirement for some players of its popular battle royale-styled Warzone mode for Call of Duty. Which has boomed in recent weeks to over 60m players.
The reasons though are far less clear, with a tweet making a single vague statement about how it will “provide an additional layer of security for players.”
That makes it sounds as though the move is being made (as it is with say Steam or Battlenet accounts) to stop players having their accounts hacked, which is of course far more likely logging into the service on a PC than on a (usually secure) games console. And this is simply good business sense, as players whose accounts are hacked often leave games, or cost operators money in customer service contact.
Only free-to-play PC players of Warzone will be required to sign up with a mobile number, though. And the broader playing community has jumped on this, not a security measure for those players, but as an anti-cheat mechanism for them, allowing Activision to more effectively ban cheats, who would then need a new mobile number (ie. a burner phone) to register a new account and continue to play using it.
After all, if Activision was primarily concerned with player securing accounts, then why hasn’t the same mandatory security been rolled out to those who have bought the full game as well?
There’s no clear answer at present, but cheating is the biggest suspect, as anyone with a full copy of the game (or with a console and associated IDs and ownership of other content) is already going to be far more inconvenienced by a ban than a free-to-play PC player with nothing to lose but their progress to date.
As to the prevalence of cheating in the game, there have been increasing reports in the press and on online forums of cheaters in the game, with video evidence. Although it should be noted that as a regular player of the game (on console in the UK) I’ve seen absolutely no evidence of cheating in innumerable games.
That’s purely anecdotal of course, and I see very few to no PC players in the vast majority of my games. But it’s likely, as with PUBG, that the problem varies considerably by geolocation.
Unlike PUBG though, with Warzone on PC running through Battlenet, Activision Blizzard has a long-running two-step security system it can turn on at a whim. It will be interesting to see the effect.