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Directly Booting MWIII without MWII (Steam)
Tuesday, November 7, 2023

A one-click solution

I'll be brief on this post. MWIII requires a prior launch of MWII to run. Since these games are coded specifically to not run via clicking their EXE files, a few extra steps are taken to force execution. I'll provide two ways: an automated batch file, and a manual way if you don't trust me. 😉

This is for the Steam version of the game. And it relies on a steam.exe to boot up the game in the end. Given this blog post was written before the final release of the game came out, I may have to edit it to account for multiplayer later on.

BAT generator

Want a one-click solution? This is it. This web tool will generate a .bat file that will let you boot up MWIII without having to open up MWII first. Since Steam and games installed for it can be in different paths, this tool requests that you give a path to a steam.exe and a sp23-cod.exe (or equivalent).

To avoid confusion, some default input is provided. Use \ as the directory separator. Sadly, because of browser security, you must type or C+P the path in.

Happy gaming! Be sure to run it as administrator.

Manual Boot

Don't trust a scary registry hack to be done automatically? It's ok, I get it. In that case, you can do it yourself. The method it uses is IFEO (Image File Execution Options).

  1. Open up the Registry Editor (Win + R and then type regedit.exe).
  2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options.
  3. Right click Image File Execution Options in the left pane. Click "New" and then "Key". It'll prompt a name. Name it cod.exe.
  4. Right click the newly created cod.exe in the left pane. Click "New" and then "String Value". Name it Debugger.
  5. Double click Debugger and set the value to the path to your sp23-cod.exe, surrounded by quotes. Assuming Steam is on your C drive, that value would be:

    String Value
    "C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\Call of Duty HQ\sp23\sp23-cod.exe"
  6. Launch MWII on Steam. It will launch MWIII instead.

Hilariously, this means that clicking the "<" button in MWIII to return to CoD HQ will just re-run MWIII. To undo this, simply delete the cod.exe key that was created in step 3.

Clara Nguyễn
Hi! I am a Vietnamese/Italian mix with a Master's Degree in Computer Science from UTK. I have been programming since I was 6 and love to write apps and tools to make people's lives easier. I also love to do photography and media production. Nice to meet you!

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