Modern Warfare 2 Multiplayer Free Weekend

These idiots probably paid.

You know what’s cheaper than paying for something? When it’s free. But no, don’t immediately leap upon this philosophy and turn to a life of crime inspired by my simple question, thus implicating me in your spree and dragging my good name into the mud. Instead why not play Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 this weekend, starting tomorrow, on Steam? Because you might be busy, that’s why not. But otherwise, it seems like a good plan.

Valve announce the offer in a brief statement:

“Beginning this Thursday, April 8, gamers around the world can play Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer free of charge during a special Free Weekend promotion on Steam. The definitive online experience, Modern Warfare 2 returns with a host of new perks and enhancements. Those who wish to enjoy every moment of the Modern Warfare 2 multiplayer Free Weekend may pre-load the game now. There is no obligation to participate.”

I like the final sentence. I’m trying to imagine how obligatory play would be enforced. Maybe your computer would refuse to do anything else, loading MW2 against your will, no matter how desperately you need the machine for booking train tickets. Or perhaps Valve would send out a team to knock on your door and check it’s running, authorised to arrest you on the spot if you’re caught not fragging away.

Also, can you just about hear the gritted teeth behind “ultimate online experience”. What’s TF2 then, eh?

Um, more helpfully, if you wish to participate in this offer, which kicks off tomorrow (Thursday) at an as yet unspecified time, boot up Steam or head here, and you’ll be given the opportunity to pre-load the game from now for free. That way it’ll be ready to run as soon as the gates open. Or you can just click here and it should magically try to install itself.

Get to.


  1. cyrenic says:

    Even for free, I have no interest in playing something with such crippled multiplayer.

  2. Abe says:

    I’m only playing this just to see how allegedly broken the multiplayer is. And because it’s free.

  3. Sobric says:

    What if I play it and it turns out to be good?*

    * Play it for the weekend then go back to BFBC2 is the correct answer.

    • Sobric says:

      @ myself

      on which note, I’ll be interested to see how BC2 has affected my FPS gaming. I’ll probably be hitting ‘Q’ on everything before I shoot, and trying to blow house and walls up with grenade launchers.

    • TeeJay says:

      Is there any kind of “demo” for BFBC2?

    • Butterbumps says:

      I’ve been playing through Borderlands multiplayer lately, and coming to it after playing a lot of BC2 has made me realise just how excellent the spotting mechanic is. Every time I want to point out the location of an enemy, if feels so clunky to have to actually describe it with my stupid human voice. I hope every multiplayer shooter ever made steals it from now on.

    • abhishek says:

      @Sobric, I kept pressing Q as well when I tried to go back to MW2 after a long stretch of BC2. Q in MW2 is the default key to throw flashbangs, so the result was that I constantly kept flashing myself :P. I’m thinking my brain is only big enough to sustain the muscle memory required for one online shooter at a time :P

    • Fumarole says:

      I am constantly amazed at the number of people who try to force themselves to work with the game, as opposed to the other way around.

  4. Sagan says:

    “There is no obligation to participate” reminds me of the “Saving game. Please don’t turn off your computer.” message, for example at the end of each loading screen in BioShock 2. I still wonder how that got started.

    • frymaster says:

      the original message would have been “saving game, do not turn off your console”

      plus a few points for remembering to localise it, minus a few thousand for thinking we needed it kept in at all

    • Premium User Badge

      DollarOfReactivity says:

      Those messages, just like “press any key to start” at the loading screen always rub me the wrong way. Did their GUI programmers ever play a PC game before?

  5. PetitPrince says:

    I wonder how the server (or lack thereof) will respond to this surge of new players.

    • Tei says:

      One can expect that since players=server, the more people playing, also more servers.
      A bit less than normal, since some of these new people will not be able to host because one of the miriad of problems that can affect client-side hosting. Like a bad ISP, bad modem, bad firewall, bad OS (but thats unskipable), etc.

  6. Psy says:

    I can but only feel sorry for the inevitable sea of disappointment that will wash over all the people who will play this game’s multiplayer for the first time. For those that are brave enough, you should prepare for hackers that cannot be removed from the game, poor matchmaking which throws you in and out of games whenever it feels like it., and frustration like never before. Best of luck!

    • TeeJay says:

      What is the actual game like when it is woking properly?

    • abhishek says:

      @TeeJay, It’s incredibly fun to play. Addictive even, if you enjoy the style of gameplay that it offers.

    • Centy says:

      It’s like Call of Duty 4 on LSD inside a washing machine. In other words when it works as best it can it’s a complete clusterfuck and not in a good way.

    • Psychopomp says:

      It can be pretty fun at times, but it seems they decided to fix the P90 and grenade launcher problem from MW by making every gun drop you in less than a second. In addition, 90% of the guns have literally NO recoil, and little to no spread. Everything boils down to who pulled the trigger first, because of this. There’s no time to make a quick rush for cover, and no hope of coming out on top of an unfavorable situation.

      The worst thing, though, is that there’s not a single way to play without killstreaks without grabbing eleven other people and making a private game. I hope you liked the chopper in MW, because that’s only the tip of the bullshit iceberg here.

    • jameskond says:

      @Psychopomp: it’s not about getting out of danger situations, it’s about not getting in them in the first place, it’s pure skills vs pure skill if you don’t see someone on time, you’re dead, but reflexes are trained while playing this game, so you will get better in time. It’s also crazy fast and if you’re not used to that it could turn real bad very fast. BC2 however seems to more rely on ‘fun’ seeing as having a vehicle vs one infantry a bit unfair if you ask me, but hey I haven’t played it since the beta. I’m not saying MW2 is a better game I just have really been enjoying the game and I only have time for one big FPS. Ergh, done here.

    • Psychopomp says:

      “it’s pure skills vs pure skill if you don’t see someone on time, you’re dead”

      Except, happening to be facing the right way isn’t skill, it’s luck. Unless, of course, you’re using a heart beat monitor, or happen to have a UAV, which the former of which was a terrible idea, that just promoted camping.

      “It’s also crazy fast”

      Quake would like a word with you

  7. squirrel says:

    Not a bad idea to promote a game, but they have to do much better than that. Downloading a 5GB software to play for just a few days is definitely not worth my effort.

    I dont know why you guys keep comparing Bad Company 2 with Modern Warfare 2. MW2 is an arcade style shooter game, and I feel no shame to enjoy COD4. I dont know how MW2 turns out as I pass on this game to protest against its inflating price. If its price drops to USD30 within this month, for sure I would give it a try, no need to wait for those non-sense “Free Weekend” thing. Well, a demo should at least last for 2 weeks, dont you think? Microsoft’s Halo PC is a forever running multiplayer demo, even with only one single map you would definitely want to try out the real deal after playing the demo. Unfortunately the PC version of Halo is no where to be found in my city, otherwise, Microsoft should have no difficulty to earn my 20 bucks.

  8. Senile says:

    Good news noone! Now everyone can see how fkd up the server system is. My ISP thinks that I’m using my computer for something illegal because of it (MW2 Party system..) and that’s the reason why I can’t play with anyone from my area because they all are using the same ISP as I do, just how great is that.
    And just because I happen to live next to this great country, I get to see lots of cheaters while I play. Last saturday we managed to spot 13 cheaters with aimbots/wallhacks in 6 hours and 10 of them were russian.

    So welcome to the world of notreallytomorrowandnotsomodern everyone!

    • Centy says:

      It’s unfair to cast the russians as cheaters to be honest its all location based so in europe we meet them more. As we all know fuckwits can come from anywhere and in MW2 they come from everywhere.

    • armlesscorps says:

      not usually one for basing opinions of people on country, but russians suck at games so bad

  9. Carter says:

    Has anyone actually managed to start preloading it? Clicking the ‘Start Preloading’ button seems to do nothing at all

  10. Navagon says:

    I’m going to play it just to see how bad the single player really is. The MP is obviously so shite it’s not worth bothering with. So once I’ve completed it there won’t be any value left in the game. That is if Steam will let me pre-load it some time in the future.

    • mcwizardry says:

      I think it’s multiplayer only. Plus the preload is broken at the moment.

    • Navagon says:

      It is? Hmm, looks like you might be right. Thanks for the heads up. Saves me some bandwidth.

  11. i am paul newman says:

    great promotion for bfbc2
    gentlemen, see you on the battlefield :D

  12. SquareWheel says:

    Having trouble pre-loading, here.

  13. Carter says:

    Oh great – just realised, the preload is working although it gives no confirmation of it in steam, a modern warfare 2 folder has appeared and steam seems to be sucking all my bandwidth to download 5 gigs i can’t cancel or play. I hate it already :(

    • jon_hill987 says:

      You on the GUI beta? AvP did that to me. I think if you run the install link again it pauses it. Short of that you have to quit Steam.

    • Carter says:

      Strange, I’m just using the vanilla steam and clicking the install link or restarting Steam dosen’t stop the runaway download – It’s gone rogue!

  14. linfosoma says:

    No single player? My only interest in this game is to shoot civilians..

  15. Rei Onryou says:

    Still not going to until a special offer allows me to get MW2 for CHEAP. Although I really should get BFBC2. And Just Cause 2. And….oh you know how this goes…

  16. Sceptre says:

    As someone who actually manages to enjoy this game, I can honestly say I can’t wait for this weekend. The amount of fresh meat to prey upon might actually score me a nuke.

  17. Daniel Klein says:

    Yay! Remote chance there’ll be someone more inept than me online! Great!

  18. dartt says:

    I do hope that some of my friends take the time to try this demo. As much as I was (and am) disappointed that they decided not to include dedicated server support, I’ve been blown away by how good the matchmaking and the P2P hosting works in MW2 (I’ve probably had as many bad experiences due to lag in the months I’ve had MW2 as I have in the weeks I’ve had BC2 and the lobby system blows BC2’s server browser out of the water in terms of speed and usability) and it has irritated me somewhat to hear so much vitriol directed towards it from people who haven’t even experienced it.

    While the game itself might not be to their taste (I’ve had loads of fun in Bad Company 2 AND Modern Warfare 2) I think they’d find it hard to deny that the technical execution is remarkable. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky and those with bad experiences aren’t just a vocal minority but I hope more people give the game a chance.

    • suibhne says:

      I spent several weeks playing the game Stateside, from the Chicago area, and server performance was absolutely, unforgivingly terrible despite the fact that I pay for a reliable and relatively high-speed connection. The listen servers were glitchy with a massive host advantage even for other players in the same town, and matchmaking was terrible – distant hosts were routinely picked which resulted in very poor (120+) ping for much of the server. No offense, dratt, but I find it very difficult to trust your perspective when you single out both the listen-server architecture and the matchmaking for such praise.

  19. Ricc says:

    So, in CoD4 you could easily swap around some files to instantly become level 55 and have all the weapons / perks. Not possible in this one, is it?

    I’m not sure if it’s even worth the huge download otherwise.

  20. schuubars says:

    QThat’s funny i had quite the exact opposite experience with the matchmaking of MW2 i found it utter BS, the so called COOP worked without problems, but when i played regular i did feel as i was playing on XBL or PSN…granted the Server Browser in BC2 is BS too as in every BF but at least i don’t waste that much time in a lobby as in MW2 and if i join a server in BC2 and friend are also on that server i get in the same team and squad if the Team balance doesn’t prevent it.
    To BC2:
    Is it so hard to learn from ealier bad Server Browsers DICE?
    And i did read your twitter comment that you still fix bugs on server side but please it’s time to fix the fucked up Auto Balance, the non existent Auto Login, and a nice little button to exit the game while loading a map…
    And actually from a BF2 player the spotting mechanic is quite ehrm broken in some instances, the spam prevention can stay but i rather woul’d have the old spotting mechanic from BF2/2142 than this PoS.

    Rant is over.

    • Tei says:

      Re: “Is it so hard to learn from ealier bad Server Browsers DICE?”

      It could be that game studios have a low retention ratio, or something like that. So some people get burned and move to other industries. But I could be wrong.

  21. Vivian says:


  22. Phinor says:

    I thought and still think the game is rather fun and solid if you can find a good server. I still can’t play it though: the FOV is very, very bad. Not as bad as Flashpoint 2 but close to that anyway. Bad enough to ruin the game. So consider yourself warned, though there are people out there who don’t care about FOV and to them I say, go for it. It’s free anyway.

    • ANDY says:

      Honestly the FOV pisses me off way more than any server/matchmaking problems. People can be stood right in front of me but slightly to the side and they wont show on my screen. Whats the point in having 16:10 monitors if the game makes me where blinkers like a fucking horse!?

  23. Carra says:

    And again I hate my download limits. Wasting half my limits on a game I can play for two days just isn’t doable :(

  24. mbp says:

    Aren’t WE still boycotting this?

  25. Isometric says:

    Boo. No thanks. I’m still boycotting it.

  26. Seras says:

    well it’s a good chance to get a few friends to check it out and play with me.

    but I don’t really get this reference to “new perks and enhancements” in the post..??

  27. Count Elmdor says:

    I think I’ll spend some more time playing Bad Company 2 instead, but thanks!

  28. subedii says:

    Perhaps I’m being cynical, but aside from the upcoming map pack, I’m guessing this move may also have something to do with the fact that since BFBC2 came out, MW2 suffered a significant drop in PC players

    Pre-release, steam stats was reporting about 105,000 players concurrently at peak times. That’s already dropped now to about 80,000. Considering it’s only been a month, that’s a pretty hefty drop (Counter-Strike source is once again at the top of the Steam stats chart. Although realistically if you combined CS and CS:S, then it always was I guess). That’s a pretty significant drop. In the three months before BFBC2 released, MW2 was showing a slow degradation, I think it peeked somewhere around 120,000 concurrent users on Steam before staying relatively steady at around 105,000. Losing another 25,000 off of those figures in a month isn’t something to be taken lightly, especially when it’s one of the most played online games today. What was really surprising to me was when it turned out more people are playing the PC version of BFBC2 online than they are on either of the consoles. Surprising as, even though Battlefield has typically been a PC franchise, the PC never got BFBC1 so there wasn’t that userbase coming into it from the first game like there was on the consoles.

    link to

    As for the games themselves, well, whatever else MW2 may be, it just doesn’t have the team play dynamic that Battlefield does. Granted if you’re playing on a bad server, half the guys are going recon and sniping or other stupid stuff. But when you’re playing with friends or otherwise on a good server (the RPS server has been pretty decent so far), there’s definitely a lot more of a team play dynamic to how everything plays out, with concerted efforts at coordinating pushes and resistance. You feel like you’ve helped the team whenever you tag an enemy and save someone from being surprised by them, or even tracer a vehicle and watch the rockets fly on in.

    All that said, I might be willing to give the game another shot this weekend. I still think that IW royally messed up the PC port, but eh, whatever. At this stage I doubt they can convince me I’d have more fun playing MW2 than Battlefield, but it’ll be interesting to see how the game’s changed by now. When all’s said and done though, even after all the flaws and hangups with BFBC2, I really appreciate the time and effort DICE took to make sure that it was customised for the PC and not just one-size-fits-all port. They could have just gone the IW route, but they didn’t, and that’s something I can appreciate.

    • subedii says:

      Actually you know what? Re-reading what I just wrote, I doubt this has anything to do with those numbers. I sincerely doubt that IW cares about whatever numbers of players there are on the PC version at this stage, they’re pretty much peanuts compared to the console versions anyway.

      So yeah, I guess this is mainly to promote the map pack.

    • Psychopomp says:

      Considering that it’s the non-mmo that finally beat CS/CS:S for most played online game, I severely doubt the concurrent players are “peanuts” compares to the Xbox numbers.

  29. Heliocentric says:

    What a shame.

    Without dedi servers this game is not a match for cod4, or laughably cod5. Good luck with that.

  30. Po0py says:


  31. Jimbob McNubbs says:

    “There is no obligation to participate.”

    I like how they point this out. I just do. It’s like they want me to get rid of my bad gaming habits and not steal my precious spare time.

    Also they should write it on the World of Warcraft retail boxes.

  32. Lobotomist says:

    I would maybe get MW2 if they would sell it for 15$ on steam. Otherwise whats the point in playing the demo ?

    Waste time that could be better spent playing BFBC2 ?

  33. Mil says:

    That should have been: “You know what’s cheaper than paying for something? Not paying for something.”

  34. Illuminati says:

    Everybody in here seems to hate this game. I actually enjoyed it. Single player it’s very funny. Just turn off your brain, don’t think about the nonsense plot and enjoy the show.

    Co-op missions are cool.

    The multiplayer without dedicated servers + cheaters + michaelbay-esque killstreaks it’s frustrating but a nice arcade game if you play with friends (or adults that just want to have fun).

    • BeamSplashX says:

      It’s fun, sure, but so is Bad Company 2. It’s just that BC2 is also more interesting (though I agree that MW2 feels tighter overall, partly due to my strange fascination with games running at 60fps).

    • Miker says:

      I actually like the “chunky” feeling of BC2, especially when you’re walking with your pistol out. Besides the first-person hand animations of MW2, it feels like you’re gliding around. And BC2 has some issues with negative mouse acceleration and vehicle aiming — those might be some reasons why MW2 may feel tighter.

    • Illuminati says:

      I also prefer BC2. I`m not playing MW2 anymore but I don’t like the “MW2 boycott attitude”. It`s just silly. Everybody saying that TF is awesome and when somebody post something about MW2 they go crazy.

  35. Azradesh says:


  36. Ben Laserlove says:

    Hey, I’m glad that I’m not the only that can actually enjoy MW2.

    Even though it’s a god-awful port.

  37. Paul O'Hara says:

    This “trial” came at a unfortunate time for me. I just upgraded my OS from Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Ultimate and since I don’t have my key for BFBC2 on me (as my game box is at the house while I’m visiting my mum), I pre-loaded this. Can’t imagine I’d want to pick this up though and wade through IWnet/Steam VAC bullshit.

  38. rocketman71 says:


    Perhaps, if they paid us enough..

  39. karthik says:

    So RPS’s true opinion of the game is hidden in the image alt-text?

  40. Mac says:

    No thanks – i’ll stick to BF:BC2

  41. Initialised says:

    Look out for vouchers in PowerColour 5850s

  42. nam says:

    i am one of the idiots that bought it, played and got tired of it. no servers, no way of “tune” your server unless doing a private match (that were really good fun with friends, 6vs6, s&d, no perks and no killstreaks) and LOTS of cheaters.
    i’ve been playing cod multiplayer (leagues,cups) since the first one and never ever i felt so embarrassed/mad/ashamed/powerless as playing this one against some many cheaters, quitting the game… entering another and finding the same problem.
    the lack of dedicated servers kills completely the multiplayer community and doesn’t allow for a fair competition as the host always have a huge advantage, low ping.
    since bc2 i completely stopped to play it.

  43. V. Tchitcherine. says:

    To Centy on April 7, 2010 at 5:04 pm.

    Why sir, it’s perfectly obvious you have neither tried LSD or being in a washing machine, let alone the two simultaneously. For shame.

  44. lumberjack_wannabe says:

    Suggestion: don’t play this game unless you have a group of friends also playing this game. Or else you will be transformed into an angry internet/P2P man (or woman?).

  45. Hazza says:

    I understand that youve read the whole p2p thing and beleive that the multiplayer is “broken” or “unbeleivably bad” or whatnot, but please allow me to correct this from an original skeptic who now thoroughly enjoys the online multiplayer experience. Yes, p2p isnt as good as dedicated servers, but looking past that the multiplayer is fantastic. It very rarely lags, and thats saying something since im on shoddy-as-hell Australian internet. the multiplayer is really, really fun. TF2 used to be my favorite multiplayer game but MW2 has definatley replaced that, its just so much fun. the only real issue is the hackers, which is, unfortunatley, a rather prolific problem. I hope that this isnt made wrose during this free weekend. But give the game a go, its great fun. =)

    • Tommo says:

      Why does everyone keep saying Aussie internet is so bad? I live in Cairns ( small city right up the very top) and have adsl2+ with 200gig limit with iprimus. Ping 60-100 to Sydney and Melbourne for (dedicated server) gaming.
      No complaints from me.

  46. RedFred says:

    I was totally going to get on this but after reading all these comments I might just buy BF:BC2.

    The angry mob has convinced me.

  47. wazups2x says:

    [B]Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare[/B] >>> Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

    [B]Battlefield 2[/B] >>> Battlefield: Bad Company 2

    [B]Battlefield: Bad Company 2[/B] > Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

    I don’t know why everyone praises BF:BC2, it’s a console port just like MW2. The only thing that makes it better is the dedicated servers, other than that it’s just as bad as MW2. BF:BC2 is full of problems, it’s a rushed console port.

    I guess DICE has at least been releases patches to fix it’s problems. However, I will never buy it until they fix the Negative Mouse Acceleration. I wont ever buy a game that has horrible controls. That’s the most important part of the game, and the sad thing is many people don’t even notice this problem.

    • wazups2x says:

      Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare >>> Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

      Battlefield 2 >>> Battlefield: Bad Company 2

      ]Battlefield: Bad Company 2 > Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

      I don’t know why everyone praises BF:BC2, it’s a console port just like MW2. The only thing that makes it better is the dedicated servers, other than that it’s just as bad as MW2. BF:BC2 is full of problems, it’s a rushed console port.

      I guess DICE has at least been releases patches to fix it’s problems. However, I will never buy it until they fix the Negative Mouse Acceleration. I wont ever buy a game that has horrible controls. That’s the most important part of the game, and the sad thing is many people don’t even notice this problem.

      Btw, I didn’t buy COD:MW2. I don’t support horrible games.

    • wazups2x says:

      Why can’t I delete my comments?

      Lol, I give up. Shoot me now.

      Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare >>> Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

      Battlefield 2 >>> Battlefield: Bad Company 2

      Battlefield: Bad Company 2 > Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

      I don’t know why everyone praises BF:BC2, it’s a console port just like MW2. The only thing that makes it better is the dedicated servers, other than that it’s just as bad as MW2. BF:BC2 is full of problems, it’s a rushed console port.

      I guess DICE has at least been releases patches to fix it’s problems. However, I will never buy it until they fix the Negative Mouse Acceleration. I wont ever buy a game that has horrible controls. That’s the most important part of the game, and the sad thing is many people don’t even notice this problem.

      Btw, I didn’t buy COD:MW2. I don’t support horrible games.

      Please work, this is embarrassing now.

  48. KennyLewis says:

    Yeah, it won’t let me pre-load the game for the free weekend, what should I do?

  49. KennyLewis says:

    Ohh, that’s why. Yeah, it’s workin’ now, thanks. Damn bugs.

  50. iainl says:

    I’m guessing that “There is no obligation to participate” merely means “Unlike the way certain companies have worked in the past, we’re not going to automatically kill your bandwidth for the next several hours pre-loading this whether you want us to or not”

    But that sounds more dull than your suggestion, admittedly.