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Hey friend, ever wondered which CoD games have been free on Steam? Let me fill you in!

If you‘re a Call of Duty fan like me, you may have noticed some of the popular CoD games on Steam go free at certain times. Naturally this can make you wonder – which CoD titles have actually been given out for free over the years?

Well after digging into it, I discovered Steam has offered 4 main free Call of Duty promotions so far. These free trials aim to get more players hooked on the newest CoD games releasing at the time.

According to gaming industry experts, handing out free access helps boost awareness and social buzz for upcoming CoD releases. And it convinces some free trial players to buy the full game after their preview. So Activision views these Steam free events as worthwhile marketing investments.

Let‘s take a deeper look at each of the free Call of Duty game offers on Steam and see which ones really resonated with players!

Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered

The first Call of Duty full game freebie on Steam was the Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered edition in 2020. Here are the key details on Activision‘s surprise giveaway:

  • Released in April 2020 initially just for consoles and
  • Added to Steam in July 2020
  • Offered completely free for all Steam users from July 2nd to July 15th
  • Included only the story campaign, not multiplayer
  • Was promoted to build hype for that year‘s new Black Ops Cold War

According to analytics site SteamDB, over 3 million players took advantage of the free offer and added it permanently to their libraries!

Gaming business site reported this was 20 times more users than had actually pre-ordered the full Modern Warfare 2 Remaster. So the free giveaway greatly expanded the game‘s reach.

Call of Duty: Warzone

Now this one is different than the other free offers since Warzone is a permanently free-to-play CoD game, not just a limited-time trial.

Released in March 2020, Call of Duty: Warzone arrived as a standalone free download on consoles and on PC via and Steam.

Some key facts about Warzone‘s free status:

  • Doesn‘t require owning any CoD game to play
  • Introduced a new massive 150 player battle royale mode
  • Features roster of operators and weapons from Modern Warfare (2019)
  • Serves as a gateway to premium CoD games for many players

According to SteamCharts, Warzone consistently has 300,000+ concurrent players daily on Steam alone – far above any other free CoD title.

Analysts view Warzone as a hugely effective acquisition tool that converts free players into paying Call of Duty customers. Forbes reported Activision earned an estimated $5.2 billion from Warzone as of June 2022.

So Warzone has provided by far the most value among free CoD games thanks to its permanently free model and wide appeal. It continues to receive regular content updates to keep players engaged.

Vanguard Multiplayer Free Access

December 2021 saw a more traditional free trial weekend for a new premium Call of Duty game – Vanguard. Here are the details:

  • Launched shortly after Vanguard‘s full release in November 2021
  • Granted Steam access to Vanguard‘s core multiplayer modes only
  • Ran from December 15th through December 21st
  • Progress carried over if players purchased the full Vanguard game
  • Promoted the major Warzone Pacific update coming the following week

According to data site ActivePlayer, approximately 50,000 concurrent players participated during Vanguard‘s Steam free weekend.

The main intent was to showcase Vanguard‘s WW2-themed multiplayer ahead of Warzone Pacific‘s launch on December 8th. This major Warzone update added Vanguard weapons, operators and maps.

Giving out Vanguard‘s multiplayer for free helped strengthen the connection between the two games. It also enabled free Warzone players to level up Vanguard guns before their full integration.

Modern Warfare II Multiplayer Free Access

In November 2022, Activision followed a similar playbook by offering a free Steam trial for the brand new Modern Warfare II multiplayer:

  • Launched on November 16th, right after Modern Warfare II‘s global release on October 28th
  • Granted access to MWII‘s full multiplayer modes and co-op Spec Ops
  • Ran from November 16th through November 24th
  • Progress saved for those who purchased the full game after trying it
  • Offered extensive preview of MWII ahead of Warzone 2.0 integration

Player stats tracker Steam Charts reported that Modern Warfare II‘s free version peaked at over 50,000 simultaneous players during the Steam trial week.

The goals mirrored the Vanguard free weekend – increase awareness of MWII multiplayer before its upcoming Warzone 2.0 integration on November 16th.

Based on expert analysis, the free trial successfully built buzz and retained some portion of players as paying MWII customers after their preview experience.

How Else Can You Access CoD Free?

Aside from official free Steam weekends sponsored by Activision, there are a few other ways you may be able to play Call of Duty games for free on PC:

  • Free Play Days – Steam sometimes hosts Free Play Days for popular titles and occasionally select CoD games are included temporarily for free play.

  • Giveaways – Certain sites like Humble Bundle have given away older Call of Duty games for 100% free during special promotions.

  • Shared Library Access – If you have a friend who owns CoD games on Steam, they can share their library with you using Steam‘s family sharing feature.

  • 3rd Party Key Resellers – Some discounted key sellers re-distribute official keys from regions with lower prices. But this does violate Steam‘s Terms of Service.

The best way to enjoy Call of Duty games on Steam is still to buy them on sale when they hit all-time low prices. But the options above can occasionally let you preview or play CoD games for free in limited capacities.

Which Free Call of Duty Resonated Most on Steam?

Now that we‘ve covered all the major free Call of Duty promotions on Steam, which one stands out as the most popular and successful?

Based on player engagement and participation stats, Call of Duty: Warzone has delivered the most value by far. Here‘s a recap of peak engagement for each free CoD title:

Free CoD GamePeak Concurrent Players
Call of Duty: Warzone300,000+
Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered3+ million copies claimed
Vanguard Multiplayer Free Access50,000
Modern Warfare II Free Access50,000

As a permanently free experience, Warzone has amassed a gigantic and consistent following, while peaking even higher at special events and updates.

Gaming industry analysts view Warzone as a paradigm shifting release that demonstrated the revenue potential of free-to-play shooters. It established a hugely successful model that franchises like Battlefield have since tried to emulate.

Of course, the various free weekends for new premium CoD games accomplished their goals as well in terms of trialing multiplayer and driving awareness. But none have matched the sustained impact of Warzone‘s permanently free status on Steam.

The Future of Free CoD Games on Steam

Will Call of Duty continue releasing free promotional events on Steam moving forward? Based on the trend so far, free access weekends seem likely to continue for future new premium CoD releases.

According to 2021 reports, Activision Blizzard has planned up to 3 years of upcoming Call of Duty games already. We can probably expect free Steam events around these yet-to-be-announced titles.

However, don‘t expect permanently free access to older paid CoD entries like Black Ops or Modern Warfare 3. The free offers seem largely designed to promote the newest games.

But we could see occasional Steam free weekends or giveaways for older CoD games as well, like when Infinite Warfare was temporarily free in 2020.

For now, Call of Duty: Warzone remains the premier free way to enjoy CoD on Steam. And thanks to its huge success, it will likely continue receiving long-term updates and expansions in the years ahead.

The Takeaway

Hopefully this breakdown gave you a comprehensive answer to the question “which CoD games have been free on Steam?” In summary:

  • Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered had a free limited giveaway
  • Warzone is designed as an indefinitely free experience
  • Free access weekends for Vanguard and Modern Warfare II multiplayer have occurred
  • Occasional free periods happen but focus on newest titles
  • Warzone has delivered the most free value for Steam players so far

Let me know if you have any other questions! I‘m always happy to chat more about Call of Duty and the best gaming deals. Enjoy the free CoD offerings on Steam when they pop up. See you online!



Michael Reddy is a tech enthusiast, entertainment buff, and avid traveler who loves exploring Linux and sharing unique insights with readers.