Controller not connecting to Modern Warfare 3? You might have this problem

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III
(Image credit: Activision)

When I booted up Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 on my PC to play with my wife, I 100% knew that it would give me trouble when connecting my Xbox controller.

I don't know what it is about controllers and PC, but anything that isn't Steam has a hard time working with controllers. This might have something to do with Steam prioritizing controller-use, but that wasn't the case here despite me playing on

This took days of research, and I simply refused to download an app that would emulate my controller. Why should I? Microsoft makes Windows. Microsoft makes Xbox. Work! 

I hated it, but here's how I connected my Xbox controller to Modern Warfare 3.

My cursed journey to reconnect

If you want the quick version, scroll down below. But if you want to hear my journey into madness, please continue.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III

(Image credit: Activision)

I went down a rabbit hole of forums, half of which were useless because they all led me to posts about the original Modern Warfare 3 that launched in 2011. Most of the useful information had to do with Steam. 

In particular, guides suggested that I disconnect Steam’s access to my controller. I did that many times, restarted Steam, my controller, and my PC all in an effort to get this working. If I didn’t actively use Steam, I might have uninstalled it entirely. However, knowing what I know now, that wouldn’t have helped at all.

Then I started searching for general fixes. Guess what? There are none. Seriously, has no settings that deal with controller usage. What the heck is that about? I get it that most PC gamers are playing on a mouse and keyboard, but come on, why is using a controller so complicated?

Eventually, I found a post that suggested I should disconnect my keyboard in order for the game to recognize my controller first. That… sounded so silly that I ignored it and went back to searching.

Then I gave up and started playing with a mouse and keyboard — and I sucked. I’m not only terrible at gaming with a mouse and keyboard, but my hand cramps to no end. I can only imagine the serious accessibility issues that can come from not being able to use your preferred device in any PC game.

How to connect Xbox controller to Modern Warfare 3

However, I was stubborn, so I kept searching. Then I ran into that same post, but what caught my attention this time is that the keyboard that they were disconnected was none other than the Razer Huntsman V2. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” Was it coincidence or incredibly relevant to the issue at hand? It broke down like this:

Step 1. Close Modern Warfare 3 and disconnect the keyboard.

Step 2. Connect your controller and start Modern Warfare 3.

Step 3. Test your controller, and if it works, reconnect your keyboard.

That’s it. And I’ve never had an issue since. I didn’t have to disconnect the keyboard, or reconnect it. I can launch Modern Warfare 3 and it just works. I don’t know if this is an issue exclusive to the Razer Huntsman V2, or if other folks are having the same issue, but it’s definitely worth giving this method a shot.

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Rami Tabari

Rami Tabari is an Editor for Laptop Mag. He reviews every shape and form of a laptop as well as all sorts of cool tech. You can find him sitting at his desk surrounded by a hoarder's dream of laptops, and when he navigates his way out to civilization, you can catch him watching really bad anime or playing some kind of painfully difficult game. He’s the best at every game and he just doesn’t lose. That’s why you’ll occasionally catch his byline attached to the latest Souls-like challenge.