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Is Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare Free to Play in 2023?

The short answer is no, unfortunately the iconic Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare from 2007 is not available for free on any platform as of 2023. You‘ll have to purchase it if you want to play MW1 today.

But let‘s take a deeper look at the status of COD4: Modern Warfare‘s availability, why it‘s not free, and some tips for getting it at the lowest price.

A Quick History of COD: Modern Warfare

Before diving into its current availability, let‘s recap what made Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare so groundbreaking when it first launched in 2007:

  • Revolutionary graphics: COD4 featured a massive graphical leap compared to previous COD titles, with incredibly detailed weapon models, environments and textures. This level of fidelity was unheard of in multiplayer shooters at the time.

  • Modern setting: The shift to modern weapons, equipment and locations was a huge change compared to COD‘s past World War II focus. It helped propel the popularity of contemporary military shooters.

  • Compelling campaign: The single player story of hunting down a rogue Russian terrorist group was extremely cinematic and memorable. Iconic characters like "Soap" MacTavish and Captain Price became instant fan favorites.

  • Innovative multiplayer: The flexible create-a-class system, killstreaks, XP progression and large map pools laid the foundation for multiplayer FPS as we know it today.

So in many ways COD4: Modern Warfare redefined first-person shooters and online multiplayer for a generation of players. It received enormous critical praise and sold over 15 million copies by 2013. Many still consider it the pinnacle of the Call of Duty series.

Why Call of Duty 4 Isn‘t Free Today

Given COD4‘s status as one of the most beloved entries in the series, you might think Activision would make it freely available today to attract players. However, there are some clear reasons why MW1 hasn‘t been made free to play:

  • Still generates sales revenue: Despite being over 15 years old, MW1 has maintained reasonable sales numbers as a standalone old school COD title. Activision has little incentive to give up this revenue stream.

  • Focus is on newer titles: As a publisher, Activision heavily promotes new entries like Modern Warfare II and Warzone 2 that they want to drive sales for. Making COD4 free could distract from newer games.

  • Fragmentation concerns: Making COD4‘s multiplayer free could split the community between those playing old vs new COD titles. Activision avoids this by keeping older games paid.

  • Lacks modern appeal: While legendary for its time, COD4‘s simple 2007 multiplayer lacks widespread modern appeal compared to new CODs. A free COD4 could compete with and undermine new games.

Based on these factors, Activision has strategically chosen to keep MW1 as a paid title rather than a free giveaway. Their priority is selling new COD games, not diverting attention to past legends.

Reviewing Your Options to Play COD4 Today

Since Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare isn‘t available for free, what are your options if you want to play it today? Here‘s an overview:

Buy it

  • On Steam – $19.99
  • On PlayStation Store – $19.99
  • On Xbox Live – $19.99
  • Used physical copies – Around $10 on eBay

Wait for a Sale

  • COD4 frequently goes 50% off or more during Steam/PSN sales
  • Watch for bundle deals that include MW1

Try Game Pass or PS Plus

  • Small chance it may be offered as a membership perk someday

Settle for Remastered Version

  • COD: Modern Warfare Remastered sells for $39.99

So in summary, you‘ll need to purchase COD4 in some form if you want to play the 2007 FPS icon today – it won‘t be free.

Hope for a Free Offer in the Future?

Based on Activision‘s handling of the Call of Duty series, the chances of Modern Warfare 1 becoming completely free to play seem relatively low for the foreseeable future.

However, here are two situations where Activision could potentially make COD4 free someday:

  • Heavy promotion for Modern Warfare sequel: If Activision releases an extremely hype-driven direct sequel to MW1, they may offer the original for free for a limited time to build excitement.

  • Extremely low player population: If COD4 multiplayer became so empty that matchmaking barely worked, Activision may make it free to boost players. But doesn‘t seem imminent.

Barring special circumstances like these though, don‘t expect Activision to budge on their stance of keeping COD4 locked behind a purchase requirement. As the saying goes "never say never", but CW1 likely won‘t be free anytime soon.

Getting Your COD4 Fix For Less in 2023

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare may not be freely accessible in 2023, but that doesn‘t mean you‘re completely out of luck if you want to play or re-play this iconic FPS on a budget.

Here are some tips and strategies for obtaining COD4 for the lowest possible price:

Buy During Major Steam/PSN Sales

COD4 frequently sees major discounts of 50-75% off during Steam seasonal sales or the PlayStation Store‘s "Deals Under $20" promotion periods. If you can catch it at 75% off, you‘re looking at only $5 – $10!

Snag a Used Disc Copy

Checked eBay or your local used game store and you can likely grab a used PS3 or Xbox 360 copy of COD4 for under $10 if you‘re patient. Ensure any included multiplayer voucher code is still valid.

Use Gaming Credit

Check your PlayStation Store wallet or Microsoft account balance for any unused gift card credit you could put towards buying MW1 when it‘s on sale. Sites like Raise often sell gaming credit at a discount too.

Keep an Eye Out for Bundles

Activision occasionally bundles COD4 as part of special "Legacy Edition" or "Ultimate Edition" compilation packages across platforms. You may be able to snag it cheaper as part of a bundle.

Check Game Pass/PS Plus Libraries

There‘s an outside chance COD4 could get offered for free as part of Game Pass or PS Plus monthly game lineups sometime. It‘s worth checking their free game libraries periodically or keeping an eye out for announcements.

With some strategic timing and luck, it‘s possible to obtain COD4: Modern Warfare in 2023 for under $10 or even $5. While not free, that‘s a steal for such an iconic FPS!

How Does COD4: Modern Warfare Hold Up Today?

Let‘s shift gears and talk about whether Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is still worth playing for the first time in 2023, or if its strictly a nostalgic trip.

Here are some pros and cons to weigh if you‘re considering COD4:


  • Legendary campaign with high stakes, memorable action sequences

  • Clean, fast-paced old school multiplayer with fewer gimmicks

  • Satisfying and strategic with fixed weapon loadouts

  • Visuals and gameplay hold up reasonably well for 15+ year old title


  • Smaller multiplayer maps and mode selection compared to newer CODs

  • Graphics obviously dated compared to current standards

  • Lower player population than current COD titles

  • Lacks modern quality of life and progression systems

For many gamers interested in FPS history, COD4 absolutely remains a worthwhile and impressively durable title even today. The campaign delivers an enthralling story that established the blueprint for modern military shooters to follow.

The deliberate, grounded multiplayer provides a refreshing change of pace from the sensory overload and randomized weapon loadouts of recent CODs.

However, due to its age, MW1 may underwhelm or feel too archaic for some contemporary gamers accustomed to state-of-the-art production and endless unlocks.

Overall though, COD4: Modern Warfare still holds up as an enormously influential FPS worth experiencing even in 2023 for the right gamers. Its staying power is remarkable.

What Other Classic COD Games Are Worth Revisiting?

If you enjoy diving into legendary older Call of Duty titles, here are some other top-tier entries in the series that remain incredibly fun today:

  • Call of Duty 2 (2005) – COD‘s gritty and atmospheric World War 2 debut
  • Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007) – As discussed above!
  • Call of Duty: World at War (2008) – Gritty Pacific campaign, zombies mode origins
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops (2010) – Innovative Cold War setting and creative missions
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) – Highly replayable Spec Ops missions
  • Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012) – Near future setting with cyberwarfare and drones

Along with the stellar original Modern Warfare, these COD classics provide an old school boots-on-the-ground combat experience light on gimmicks that holds up marvelously despite their age. Their campaigns are like blockbuster military thrillers with addictive arcade action multiplayer.

For FPS fans feeling burnt out on ultra-modern CODs, revisiting these roots of the series delivers memorable and focused military shooter experiences that absolutely stand the test of time.

Looking at Call of Duty Titles You Can Play For Free

Let‘s round things out by overviewing the Call of Duty games that are freely playable today, in contrast to COD4:

Call of Duty: Warzone

  • Activision‘s smash hit free-to-play battle royale experience
  • Features weapons and operators from Modern Warfare and Black Ops
  • Includes Warzone and DMZ modes
  • Cross-play on console, PC, and mobile
  • Currently on Warzone 2.0 released November 2022

Call of Duty: Mobile

  • Official COD game for iOS and Android mobile devices
  • Maps, weapons, characters spanning the series
  • Extensive multiplayer modes and options
  • Monetized via battle pass and microtransactions
  • Hugely popular with over 650 million downloads

Limited Multiplayer Free Access

  • Occasional free access periods to promote new entries
  • Often a weekend to try new game‘s multiplayer
  • Most recently: MWII had a free week in 2022

Warzone has clearly become Activision‘s primary free-to-play COD experience across platforms. Expect new content and updates for years to come.

COD: Mobile provides a surprisingly robust on-the-go COD fix for iOS and Android gamers. And free access periods let players trial new CODs risk-free.

The Bottom Line

At the end of the day, despite being one of Activision‘s most beloved and decorated FPS titles, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare remains a paid product with no free version in sight as of 2023.

Due to its sustained sales and Activision‘s focus promoting new entries, COD4 likely won‘t be offered free permanently anytime soon unless player counts eventually evaporate.

However, with occasional sales and discounted used copies, it‘s still very possible to add MW1 to your library for under $10 if you‘re patient. And its riveting campaign and refined classic multiplayer provide an enthralling pre-gimmicks COD experience that holds up marvelously.

For a free to play fix, check out the excellent Warzone or Mobile editions. But if you have any interest in FPS history, COD4: Modern Warfare remains a hall-of-fame worthy title still worth returning to if you missed this legend the first time around.

So while not free, hopefully this overview provided some tips to potentially get your hands on this hugely influential Call of Duty classic for a reasonable price. It‘s a snapshot of gaming history that plays great even today.



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