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Modern Warfare 3's Steam launch nowhere near the heights of MW2

Players on Steam have, shockingly, not been buying Modern Warfare 3 in droves.

Image credit: Activision

It's pretty clear that the launch of Modern Warfare 3 has had more negatives associated with it than positives. As poorly received as the game has been so far, Call of Duty games always sell very well. Some, clearly, more than others.

Will MW3 become 2023's best-selling game regardless? We'll have to see the overall picture towards the end of the year. One thing is, however, very clear: it has not been popular amongst Steam users.

Modern Warfare 3 launched November 10 on Steam, and elsewhere. As we tend to do, we like to look at how it has been doing on Steam (now that Call of Duty games are on Steam again). Comparing and contrasting is fun regardless, but Steam is the only major platform that reveals player data - in real-time.

But Activision's decision to hide its recent Call of Duty games behind the all-encompassing Call of Duty HQ comes with the major side effect of making it much harder to tell exactly how many players are playing each game. As it stands, Call of Duty HQ has Modern Warfare 2, the current version of Warzone, and Modern Warfare 3.

According to SteamDB, the MW3 launch pushed the peak player count to 177,881 concurrent players. Now, it's clear Modern Warfare 3 contributed to that bump, but much less obvious how many of those players were actually playing it, rather than two other games already available.

While Activision's not-so-subtle obfuscation can make it hard to get an accurate picture, it does not stop us from comparing MW3's Steam launch to last year's game. Modern Warfare 2 was far and away Steam's biggest Call of Duty, attracting a peak concurrent of 238,522 players immediately at launch, which later grew to 491,670 with the launch of the free-to-play Warzone 2.0.

Comparing those numbers to MW3's 177,881 - a 25% drop, and things look a bit dire. Bearing in mind that, even that figure is inflated, because it includes two other games.

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Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 (2023)

PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

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Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0

PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC

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Sherif Saed


Sherif is VG247’s go-to shooter and Souls-likes person. Whether it’s news, reviews, or op-eds – Sherif is always eager to tell you about video games. Sherif is based in Egypt, a fact he’s working diligently to change, if only to have more opportunities to hike.