Call of Duty sees a new peak player count on Steam following a free trial for Multiplayer and the launch of Season 3

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Warzone Season 3.
(Image credit: Activision)

What you need to know

  • Call of Duty: Warzone and Modern Warfare 3 received an update adding free and paid content for Season 3 on April 6.
  • The content drop featured a return of the fan-favorite Resurgence map, Rebirth Island, for Warzone and included a free weekend-long trial for Modern Warfare 3.
  • Player stat tracking website, SteamDB, recorded a peak player count for Call of Duty on Steam, hitting nearly 167,000 players following the kick-off of Season 3.

Call of Duty's latest content drop may have brought on a resurgence—in more ways than one. Tracking website picked up a record number of players joining Call of Duty on Sunday afternoon.  The new 24-hour peak at 166,772 concurrent players, and the previous 24-hour peak record was over a year old. Twitter account @CharlieIntel originally reported the record-breaking player count.

Steam players on Modern Warfare 2, Modern Warfare 3, and Warzone are all factored into player numbers on SteamDB as the three games are listed as one on Steam. SteamDB does not take into consideration console player counts, either. When making the jump to Call of Duty: Warzone 2.0 in 2022, team leads from Raven Software and Infinity Ward shared that the majority of Call of Duty's players were still using last-gen consoles as their primary platform.

The influx of players came on the heels of Call of Duty's Season 3 content drop, which brought about new maps and gameplay modes to Modern Warfare 3's multiplayer, with significant changes to Call of Duty: Warzone. The most notable change was the return of the fan-favorite map Rebirth Island. Rebirth Island was originally available in the classic version of Call of Duty: Warzone. It was added as a second map option with a twist. 

Rebirth Island was much smaller than Verdansk, the standard Battle Royale map at the time, and introduced 'resurgence' gameplay. In the standard battle royale mode, when a player is eliminated from the game, they have a chance at redemption in the gulag. Success in the gulag gives a second chance to return to the battlefield with any remaining squad mates (or alone). Resurgence Mode stripped out the gulag fight in favor of an endless loop of respawns, provided at least one member of your squad was also alive on the battlefield until the countdown timer reached 0. 

However, Rebirth Island was eventually removed from Warzone when the game was shifted to Warzone Caldera shortly after the launch of Warzone 2.0 in 2022. Since its removal, players have pined for its return, and multiple other small resurgence maps, including Fortune's Keep and Ashika Island, were eventually released in its place. Still, fans continued to request the return of Rebirth, and with Season 3 of Modern Warfare 3, Raven Software and Beenox finally obliged. 

Rebirth Island on Warzone 2.0 (now just called Call of Duty: Warzone after Warzone Caldera's servers were shut down.) was added to the game on April 6, after previously being made available on Warzone Mobile.  The map rejoins Fortune's Keep and Ashika Island in Resurgence mode playlists, and is currently the setting for Warzone's Ranked Play in Season 3.

Rebirth Island returned to Call of Duty: Warzone in Season 3. (Image credit: Activision)

In addition to the return of Rebirth Island for Call of Duty: Warzone, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 may have contributed to the influx of players by offering a free trial weekend for multiplayer. While Call of Duty: Warzone is free-to-play, the franchise's annual premium releases lock other core multiplayer components behind a $70 paywall.  That said, there has been an ongoing trend with Modern Warfare 3 where the weekend following a new season is marked with a free, albeit limited, trial of multiplayer and a notable discount for those who purchase.

The new player base diving into Call of Duty has been met with sweeping bans from enforcement. TeamRICOCHET has actively cracked down on cheat software, targeting players using unlocks and other tools to violate the game's service agreement. During the free trial weekend, TeamRICOCHET reported that 27,000 accounts were banned for cheating software. An additional 58,000 were banned at the beginning of this week, with more ban waves to come as the team improves detection and mitigation systems.

Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.