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A player slides in a hallway, dodging an RPG and a Sentry Gun on Meat in MW3.
Image via Activision

Can you play MW3 on Steam Deck?

Modern Warfare 3 on Steam Deck is a complicated proposition.

Call of Duty has been supremely popular for two decades, Steam Deck is rapidly gaining status among gamers since its launch in 2022. Can you mix the two and play Modern Warfare 3 on the Steam Deck? The short answer is yes, but it’s sadly not that simple.

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It seems like every new Call of Duty game is panned by critics and fans alike just to end up selling millions of copies anyways. The demand for the first-person shooter series isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon. In fact, gamers are looking to play the newest title, Modern Warfare 3, on every possible platform.

With Steam Deck being the new kid on the console block, and it being a handheld, the question over a game’s compatibility with the device always tends to come up. Modern Warfare 3’s compatibility with Steam deck goes beyond a surface level “yes, it will run it”, so let’s talk about the finer details that may disrupt your MW3 enjoyment on Valve’s handheld.

Can Steam Deck run MW3?

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You need Windows 11 to run MW3 on Steam Deck, and even then, it probably won’t run all too well. Screenshot by Dot Esports

Yes, Steam Deck can run Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. It would be delightful to end the answer here, but there are a couple of major caveats. For starters, you need to have Windows 11 installed to run MW3. The anti-cheat system used by the game only works with the most recent Microsoft operating system, so you must upgrade to Windows 11 if you want to play MW3 on the Steam Deck. Note that this requirement is exclusive to the handheld and does not apply for regular PC gaming.

The other notable drawback is that Modern Warfare 3 won’t exactly run smoothly on the Steam Deck. You want a high and most importantly consistent frame rate in a competitive multiplayer shooter, and unfortunately, hardware limitations are bound to kick in. Steam Deck is a handheld after all and is noticeably weaker in the hardware department than full-fledged consoles like the PS5 or Xbox Series X. You’d be lucky to crack 60 FPS at the lowest graphical settings in MW3 and we can’t blame you if you find such an experience unsatisfying.

If you still want to give Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 a try on your handheld, our guide on how to install Windows on Steam Deck is a necessary starting point. Once you’re done getting Windows 11 running on your device, you can proceed to gaming, hopefully not in the form of a slide show.

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Image of Kiril Stoilov
Kiril Stoilov
Dot Esports general gaming writer. Loves writing, games, and writing about games. Began working in the industry in 2018 with, before moving to, and later joining the Dot Esports staff. Though a single player gamer at heart, he can be seen noobing around CS:GO lobbies.