Tuesday, March 5, 2024
EsportsGames NewsNews

Activision removes popular streamer bundles from Call of Duty over anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric

Activision has removed branded cosmetic bundles tied to streamers Nick “Nickmercs” Kolcheff and Tim “Timthetatman” Betar due to the former’s comments about LGBTQ+ people during Pride Month, and the latter’s request to be removed in solidarity.

The controversy started when esports commentator/broadcaster/player Chris Puckett posted a quote tweet on June 7 of footage of protestors and counter-protestors clashing at a schoolboard meeting in Glendale, California. The subject of the meeting was whether or not the schoolboard would officially recognize June as Pride Month.

“This happened 4 blocks from my Overwatch League apartment,” Puckett wrote in the quote tweet. “Americans are in a sad place right now. Let people love who they love and live your own life.”

Nickmercs replied to the tweet with the following: “They should leave little children alone. That’s the real issue.”

This is a line of argument frequently brought up by anti-LGBTQ+ activists, stemming from the claim that exposing children to queer people or teaching them about sexuality is grooming them. In a later livestream, Nickmercs denied having anti-LGBTQ+ beliefs and also stated that he would not delete the tweet.

“I simply feel that I want to be the one – and my wife wants to be the ones – to speak with my child about stuff like that,” Nickmercs said during that stream. “And that was the tweet.”

Activision responded to the FaZe Clan co-owner’s actions by removing his branded bundle from the Call of Duty Modern Warfare II and Call of Duty Warzone stores.

“Due to recent events, we have removed the ‘NICKMERCS Operator’ bundle from the Modern Warfare II and Warzone store,” the Call of Duty account wrote on Twitter in a reply to CharlieIntel. “We are focused on celebrating PRIDE with our employees and our community.”

In solidarity with Nickmercs, fellow streamer Timthetatman requested that his bundle be removed from the Call of Duty stores as well.

“Nicmercs has been my friend for years- we went in getting our CoD operators together. It feels wrong for me to have mine and him no longer have his. In support of my friend, please remove the timthetatman bundle,” he wrote.

“At Tim’s request, we have removed the TimTheTatman operator bundle from the Modern Warfare 2 and the Warzone store,” an Activision spokesperson told Eurogamer on June 6.

Another streamer, the notorious Dr. Disrespect, also publicly came to Nickmerc’s defense. He uninstalled Call of Duty on his livestream in front of his audience and urged them to do the same.

“What we gotta do, is uninstall the game,” he said on stream. “Don’t be mistaken, this year’s Call of Duty is the worst in its franchise, but that decision by COD’s PR marketing team, I’ll tell you right now, that’s a tough one… that’s a tough one to digest.

“They need to publicly apologize to him, or re-instate his bundle, for me to consider playing Call of Duty again.”

Activision/the Call of Duty account do not appear to have made any further comment about the situation at the time of writing.

This isn’t the first time Nickmercs has caused controversy due to his beliefs. In 2022 he used Twitch’s updated COVID-19 precautions for TwitchCon as a way to market the FaZe Clan event that was scheduled to happen alongside it in San Diego that weekend. While Twitch made its masking and vaccine requirements more strict, Nickmercs made the lack of any of these measures a selling point for the FaZe event.

FaZe Clan, the esports organization that Nickmercs co-owns, has also had a past of anti-LGBTQ+ incidents involving its members. Talal “Virus” Almalki — formerly of FaZe Clan — was embroiled in a controversy last year when he quote tweeted FaZe Clan’s Pride post with a statement saying that he did not support anything LGBTQ because he is Muslim. Many LGBTQ+ fans felt the organization’s silence on this matter, aside from the player deleting his tweet, was deafening.

Ty Galiz-Rowe

Ty is Gayming Magazine's deputy editor and esports expert.