You ever think about subtle class barriers in society? Like how a job may require an online application when some people don’t own computers because they’re too poor? Fortunately we have libraries for situations like that, but there are many other examples of such gatekeeping that aren’t so easily solved (including, say, the requirement of a bachelor’s degree for menial jobs). But while those barriers are pervasive and troublesome, they usually don’t extend to casual enjoyment of entertainment media — but that appears to be the case with Overwatch 2, as a number of players have found themselves unable to play the supposedly free-to-play video game.

 

 

You see, in order to play OVW2, Blizzard requires you to attach a phone number to your account. The same phone number can’t be used for multiple accounts, meaning it’s tied solely to one account forever, and you can’t use a pre-paid phone number or VOIP number for SMS Protect. This is presumably to stop banned players from making new accounts, but it has the oh-so-neat side effect of preventing people with prepaid phone plans — in other words, those too poor to afford otherwise — unable to play the game. While some people with prepaid phone plans appear to be able to play (meaning it may depend service by service), it’s still a barrier for some.

While all video games have costs both obvious and unseen the consumer has to manage to play them (beyond just the price of the game, there’s the console/PC you have to buy, a monitor to play it on, and electricity bills to pay). This seems like a rather blatant case of gatekeeping with an undercurrent — intentional or not — of classism. We’ll have to see if Blizzard cares enough to change guidelines, or if they’ll just let the minority percentage of players fall by the wayside. But they deserve to play games too. 

 

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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.