I have forwarded all the required ports on my router per these two articles/forum posts:

Required Ports for Modern Warfare 2

What ports does this game use?

And yet, I still cannot connect to any games. I try to join a game, and I'm always the only one in the lobby. It searches for games for a good 60 seconds, incrementing the ping tolerance by 10 every few seconds, then finally says "Searching for available games" for a good minute or two after which I give up.

I can see that there are x thousand people playing on the multiplayer screen, so why can't I join any of these games?

I have no problem connecting to multiplayer in other games such as Left 4 Dead and Starcraft 2, and I'm on high-speed cable internet.

  • What console are you playing on? Aug 11, 2012 at 20:42
  • @PriestVallon PC.
    – cowgod
    Aug 16, 2012 at 16:48

4 Answers 4


Modern Warfare 2, even on the PC, uses a peer-to-peer model for multiplayer. If there are no games within a certain latency limit of you (I think it's around 100-150 ms) the game will attempt to make a new game with you as the host. If enough other people in your area are also looking for a game, they will join your lobby and you will have the chance to play with them.

However, if there aren't any players in your area trying to play Modern Warfare 2 in the game mode that you've chosen, you'll essentially wait forever for other people to show up. You can try to fix this in a couple of ways, but essentially unless there are people playing near you, you won't find a game lobby. This is complicated by the fact that far fewer people are playing Modern Warfare 2 compared to other games in the CoD series.

A couple of things to try nonetheless:

  • Modern Warfare 2 segregates players based on the game type they want to play. Team Deathmatch is generally the favorite, so if you're trying to play some other game mode, you might consider trying a more popular one instead.
  • If there's anything else going on with your connection (ie, people you live with watching Netflix, or downloading large files) try to reduce this. This can improve your latency and give you a wider area to search for games in.

Beyond that, it's more just a matter of whether people in your region are interested in playing a game of Modern Warfare 2 or not. Peak times seem to be in the evenings.

Left4Dead uses a dedicated server architecture, and is a lot more forgiving in terms of latency, so finding a game is quite a bit easier. It also has more of a following even this far after release. Starcraft 2 can tolerate much higher latencies and is also quite a bit more popular than Modern Warfare 2 at this point.

  • I live in a large metropolitan area, so I don't think I would be the only one trying to play. My friend living in the same area on the same cable provider doesn't have any problems. I think it has to have something to do with my router setup or something, but like I said, I have it all configured as instructed. I have tried multiple game types and they all exhibit the same behavior.
    – cowgod
    Dec 5, 2011 at 2:16
  • 1
    Even if your router is set up screwy, you can still generally join games that others are hosting. Opening ports on your router just allows you to be the host. If your friend lives nearby and he's not having issues, have you asked him to take a look at your setup?
    – agent86
    Dec 5, 2011 at 15:06
  • No, I haven't, but what would he be looking for? When I start up the game, it says there are thousands of people playing, so I don't understand why I can't join any games.
    – cowgod
    Dec 6, 2011 at 16:44
  • Try using cables if you use WiFI and bypassing the router.
    – kotekzot
    Jul 7, 2012 at 14:34

If you have the DLC maps installed, try uninstalling them.

Less people have the DLC than don't. I and my friends still play this game years after release, and even though we all bought the DLC, we don't have it installed anymore. This is because it makes it difficult to find games quickly, and even the ones you do find are often quite laggy.

If I install the maps, I'm unable to find a Mercenary Team Deathmatch game. At all. I can let it sit in the lobby searching for an hour, and only see one person enter and leave. I'm near Denver, there are plenty of people playing, can't connect. If I uninstall the maps, I can find a game in seconds.

  • 1
    I think at this point, literally 0 people play MW2
    – Willy Goat
    Dec 23, 2015 at 0:58
  • @WillyGoat Then you are mistaken. Many people play MW2. It's still the shooter I play the most often, despite having bought and tried most of the CoD's since. It's pretty easy to find a game.
    – DCShannon
    Jan 3, 2016 at 17:44

Another thing that's not being considered is that MW2 is a 2 year old game with 2 successors that are virtually identical in genre, Black Ops and MW3.

There is going to be next to nil players on MW2 at this point. While this argument doesn't apply to other games like COD2 or World at War, they're different entirely.

  • 1
    Actually, this is not true - there were so many people on each CoD game that they still have large followings. CoD4 is mostly dead (~4000 people on most times I check), but MW2 still has a following, albeit not as big as other CoD games have on PC due to the uproar IW caused when they eliminated dedicated servers on MW2. Regardless, lack of players is not likely the problem here.
    – SSumner
    Dec 6, 2011 at 0:33
  • 1
    When I start the game, it says there are several thousand people playing.
    – cowgod
    Dec 6, 2011 at 16:44

I don't know what the problem is. I have the same problem, but I have an temporary solution.

Host a game and wait until the game is over, then try to reconnect to the game server and it will work. Don't ask me how to solve this one forever.

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