What is a Shadowban in Warzone & MW3? Limited matchmaking explained

Matt Porter

One of MW3 and Warzone’s ways to fight cheaters within the game is called Shadowbans, so here’s what being Shadowbanned means, and how to find out if you have limited matchmaking.

When entering a Modern Warfare 3 or Warzone session, players are looking to win matches, but this gets harder if a cheater is in your lobby. RICOCHET anti-cheat and its kernel-level drivers include several measures to counter Warzone or MW3 cheaters.

Still, Activision uses other tools like limited matchmaking to stop hackers from ruining matches. So, here’s everything you need to know about what a Shadowban is.

What does Shadowban mean in Warzone & MW3?

When a player is suspected of violating Call of Duty’s Security and Enforcement policy, their MW3 and Warzone account may be placed into “a limited matchmaking state,” known as Shadowban.

This means they won’t be able to play in normal lobbies with the rest of the game’s community while Activision reviews their account. Instead, they get placed into special lobbies full of other suspected cheaters.

The limited matchmaking status will depend on the offense the player is suspected of. As of June 2024, CoD’s policy has four active offense and suspension classes:

  • Minor offense: The player hasn’t done “quantifiable” damage to another player or the “game community at large.”
  • Temporary suspension: These may range from “48 hours to two weeks or longer,” depending on the severity of the offense.
  • Permanent suspension: They are “lasting and final” and can be applied across Call of Duty titles.
  • Extreme offense: The player has “caused detriment to other players or has organized large groups of players to commit additional offenses.”

Unfortunately, given Warzone is free-to-play, once cheaters figure out what has happened to them, many make new accounts. Still, limited matchmaking is a useful tool to take them out of the regular player base into a lobby full of potential cheaters.

What is limited matchmaking?

Limited matchmaking is the same thing as a Shadowban in MW3 and Warzone, where any player suspected of “a potential violation” of the policy, will be placed into a “limited matchmaking state.”

This will separate the player suspected of cheating from the rest of the player base, just like the Shadowban system.

limited matchmaking call of duty
You can check if you have limited matchmaking status through Activision Support.

Can you get Shadowbanned in Warzone & MW3?

Yes, a regular, non-cheating player can get Shadowbanned in Warzone and MW3. Several streamers have been Shadowbanned, and placed into limited matchmaking, and it happens to regular players all the time too.

Of course, if you are hacking and get caught by RICOCHET, don’t expect the limited matchmaking to lift. Instead, your account will become permanently suspended once reviewed.

How to find out if you’ve been Shadowbanned

When Shadowbanned in MW3 and Warzone, the initial indicator is an elevated ping reaching 200 and a long wait when attempting to find a match. When you get in a game, it’ll be laggy and might have more hackers than a usual lobby.

If you believe you’ve been tagged for limited matchmaking, you can head to the Ban Appeal section of Activision Support. Here, you’ll find out if your account is “Limited Matchmaking.”

Here’s everything you need to do:

  1. Head to the Ban Appeal page on Activision Support
  2. Log in with your Activision account
  3. Press ‘Agree and Continue’
  4. The screen will tell you if there’s No Ban Detected, your Account is Limited Matchmaking or Permanently Banned

If you believe you’ve been tagged with limited matchmaking incorrectly, your only option is to wait. Once the Support looks into your account and makes a decision, you can either continue playing as normal or your account will be fully banned, and you’ll need to submit an appeal through their site.

How to get Unshadowbanned

While there’s no process to automatically get Unshadowbanned from MW3 and Warzone, you can submit a ban appeal through Activision’s Support Center to speed up the waiting period. Keep in mind that this doesn’t guarantee your account will be free, especially if support discovers an issue during their review.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to claim your ban:

  • Head to Activision’s Ban Appeal website
  • Log into the account that has been shadowbanned
  • Click ‘Agree and Continue’ once the appeal pop-up shows
  • Explain your MW3 or Warzone ban and press ‘Submit my Appeal’
  • There you have it, your ban appeal will be sent to Activsion’s Support and once a decision has been made, they’ll contact you via your ATVI email.

All in all, that’s everything you need to know about MW3 and Warzone’s Shadowbans. If you manage to free yourself from the Shadowban state, be sure to check your controller settings and audio setup to dominate MW3 and Warzone.

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