Blizzard Owns Up To Overwatch 2's Rocky Start, Drops Phone Registration Requirement For Many
Overwatch 2 had a massive launch with millions in the game already, but the the launch did not meet the expectations of fans or Blizzard.
Blizzard's long-awaited Overwatch 2 arrived this week, but the launch didn't exactly go to plan. Blizzard has apologized for the launch issues, saying it failed to meet the expectations of players and Blizzard itself. The studio also announced it is removing the phone registration requirement for many and provided an update on what's being done to mitigate server issues to help players get into matches.
In a blog post, Blizzard said "millions" of people are already playing Overwatch 2, which signals a strong start for the free-to-play game. However, "the launch has not met your, or our, expectations," it said.
"First, we want to apologize to our players. We expected the launch of Overwatch 2 to go smoothly. We hold ourselves to a higher standard and we are working hard to resolve the issues you are experiencing," Blizzard said.
The list of known issues for Overwatch 2 counts a number of issues, but there are a few key problems that Blizzard wanted to address right now, the first of which is the phone number requirement. Blizzard initially said the phone number requirement was part of an effort to combat cheating, but many people complained about it for a variety of reasons, and some prepaid phone plans did not work.
"We have made the decision to remove phone number requirements for a majority of existing Overwatch players. Any Overwatch player with a connected Battle.net account, which includes all players who have played since June 9, 2021, will not have to provide a phone number to play," It said. "We are working to make this change and expect it to go live on Friday, October 7. We will update players once it is in effect."
Accounts not connected to Battle.net and new accounts must still provide a phone number.
As for server issues and stability, Blizzard said it's making progress here but queues are expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Queues for Battle.net and the game itself were combined, but going forward, there should only be one queue.
"Players may have been seeing their queue numbers jumping around, going from a small number to a larger number. This is due to there being two queues for players--one through Battle.net, then one through the game itself. This process is usually invisible to players, but was being seen in real time," Blizzard said. "We have made changes to simplify the queuing process, so players should now only be experiencing the one queue before entering the game."
Regarding stability, Blizzard just recently released a patch for the login experience that has already been shown to increase the "reliability" of logging in. Blizzard is now working on another server update to help reduce how often players become disconnected when they can manage to connect to a game.
"Finally, the player database is being overloaded, which cascades and causes a backup in the login system, which eventually leads to some people being dropped out of queues or being unable to log in at all," Blizzard said. "We're continuing to add nodes to ease the pressure on the player database. The process of adding nodes requires replication of data, which inherently adds pressure to an already stressed system, so we're doing it slowly to not cause any further disruption as devs and engineers work through separate issues."
"We are also currently throttling queues in order to protect the player database as much as we can while we scale--this feels bad in the short-term, but once it's done, will greatly improve the experience for players across multiple fronts moving forward," it added.
Players have also reported that they are logging in to Overwatch 2 only to see that some or all of their items and data are missing. The good news is that no items or progress has been lost.
Blizzard said this issue comes from players not completing their account merge process. Another factor is that items are taking time to populate from the original Overwatch to Overwatch 2. "In all cases, no player data has been wiped or lost. We have a client-side fix for this that cannot be deployed until next week, so we are exploring server-side fixes and will provide updates as more information becomes available," Blizzard said.
Blizzard went on to say that anyone who has unlocked a hero but that hero is still showing as locked should log back into the game, and this will resolve the issue "in most cases." Players can open a support ticket if they are still experiencing problems.
Finally, Blizzard said all of Overwatch 2's launch issues were exacerbated by the DDoS attacks against the game. "They did not directly cause any of these issues, they made the environment in which we work on these issues more challenging. We have not suffered any further attacks," Blizzard said.
The Overwatch 1 servers were shut down on October 2 to prepare for the sequel's launch.
In our Overwatch 2 review-in-progress, critic Jessica Howard mostly enjoyed her early hours with the game, though she questioned if it's a true successor to the iconic original. "Where it counts, Overwatch 2 feels like a fantastic update to a multiplayer game with mechanics that enable thrilling skirmishes between teams of heroes," she wrote. "However, as a separate entity and sequel, it stumbles."
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