Call of Duty Boycotts Explained: Why Streamers Are Protesting Warzone

Various Call of Duty streamers are at the center of a boycott that could force the franchise to take a rare stance on a major social topic.

Warzone 2
Photo: Activision Blizzard

While Call of Duty and its free-to-play battle royale spin-off Warzone have remained some of the most popular games on Twitch and other streaming platforms, a recent series of protests involving streamers Nickmercs, TimTheTatman, and others have raised questions about the future of Call of Duty streaming and some of that scene’s biggest names.

While this situation is ongoing, here is what you need to know about the recent calls to boycott Call of Duty over controversial streamer statements related to the LGBTQ community.

Why Streamers Are Boycotting Warzone and Call of Duty

On May 31, the Call of Duty team added special character bundles to Warzone 2 and Modern Warfare 2 which were based on two popular streamers: Nickmercs and TimTheTatman. While Call of Duty has historically featured character skins and other cosmetics based on real-life figures (such as NBA star Kevin Durant), the series typically does not feature content based on streamers.

The decision to add those streamers to the game (so to speak) was not inherently controversial. Many other competitive multiplayer games already featured character skins based on streamers, and the skins themselves were obviously largely meant to appeal to players who were already fans of these streamers.

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However, the situation changed on June 7 when esports caster Chris Puckett tweeted about a violent incident that occurred at a nearby schoolboard meeting where officials were voting on whether to officially recognize June as Pride Month within the district. In the tweet, Puckett stated that “Americans are in a sad place right now” and that he wished for everyone to “Let people love who they love and live your own life.” Streamer Nickmercs soon replied to Puckett’s post with a tweet that immediately drew a lot of attention from those on both sides of the debate:

Many who read that tweet immediately noticed the wording strongly resembled a far-right talking point that suggests that many members of the LGBTQ community are child groomers, pedophiles, and sexual predators who are trying to get close to children via various means for nefarious purposes. That conspiracy theory has evolved over the years in the United States and elsewhere, though it gained quite a lot of traction in the U.S. during the 1970s when groups such as Anita Bryant’s “Save Our Children” organization heavily pushed that falsified narrative for political purposes.

That conspiracy has been debunked in various ways over the years. However, modified versions of that talking point have recently been used by conspiracy groups such as QAnon as well as Republican officials/figures like Congressional candidate Angela Stanton-King, Trump legal team representative Jenna Ellis, and Florida governor Ron DeSantis’ press secretary/rapid response director, Christina Pushaw. Variations of that conspiracy have also been used to push recent pieces of anti-LGBTQ legislation (most notably, DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay” bill). Nickmercs recently seemed to express his support of DeSantis via Twitter, though not much else is known about his political beliefs/affiliations at this time.

However, on June 7, Nickmercs started his Twitch stream by addressing the growing controversy surrounding his tweet. He mentioned that he found the video to be “sad” and stated, “I want to be the one and my wife wants to be the one to speak with our child about stuff like that.” While he said that he didn’t mean to upset anyone and that he didn’t believe his tweet was “anti-gay,” he also refused to apologize for the tweet or delete it. It should also be noted that the Glendale Unified School District has stated that their “Elementary curriculum does not include specific information about LGBTQ+ or gender identity,” and that the vote in question was not intended to alter that policy.

On June 8, fans noticed that the Nickmercs character skin/character bundle was no longer available via the Call of Duty shop. Later that day, the Call of Duty team confirmed via Twitter that they had removed the bundle from the in-game store:

On June 9, Nickmercs responded to the news that his bundle had been removed from the game by sending the following tweet:

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Soon after that tweet was sent, several high-profile streamers responded to the situation. Most notably, TimTheTatman requested that his character bundle also be removed from Call of Duty. The Call of Duty team complied with that request and removed the TimTheTatman bundle from the game on June 10.

Other streamers and figures in the Call of Duty community have expressed their support of Nickmercs in other ways. For instance, popular Twitch streamer Asmongold suggested that he sides with Nickmercs and believes that “70-80% of people” would also be on Nickmercs’s side. Twitch streamer Cloakzy and YouTuber Dr. Disrespect (both of whom are close to Nickmercs) also recently uninstalled Call of Duty and implied they may not play it until the situation is resolved in Nickmercs’ favor (if ever again). Other streamers have seemingly stopped playing Call of Duty and Warzone (even if they have made no official statement regarding their intentions), and fans of various streamers/the beliefs expressed by Nickmercs have also been calling for a general boycott of the game.

What Happens Next?

As of the time of this writing, the Call of Duty and Warzone teams have not published any official follow-up statements regarding the Nickmercs and TimTheTatman situations or the other streamer boycotts. The two streamers’ character bundles remain unavailable for purchase, and the Call of Duty teams have not publically expressed any intentions to make them available again under any circumstances. There is a feeling that an apology from Nickmercs or TimTheTatman simply requesting for his character bundle to be added back to the game could lead to a resolution, but there has been no official word regarding any such plans at this time.

There is also no word on whether or not Call of Duty will ever attempt to add other streamer-based bundles into the game in the future. However, the act of adding content (usually microtransactions) based on streamers remains a popular practice in many other titles.

Neither Nickmercs nor TimTheTatman has expressed any intentions to take any steps to have their character bundles added back into the game at this time. They, and the others who have stopped playing Call of Duty over this incident, have also not started playing the game again as of the time of this writing. For what it’s worth, Nickmercs and TimTheTatman are also part of a group of streamers that recently announced their intention to create their own battle royale project within Fortnite‘s “Project V” creative mode. Streamer Dr. Disrespect is also part of a team that is working on a new competitive shooter called Deadrop (which has recently been the subject of other controversies).

It should also be noted that some members of the Call of Duty franchise have previously been hesitant to suggest that their games are “political” despite the fact that they often feature real-life historical figures and reference actual military events both directly and indirectly. For instance, they have made Pride Month-themed updates to the game before, but they’ve also allowed that content to be censored in certain regions.

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While many people across many teams work on the Call of Duty franchise and its various spin-offs, this is one of the most notable incidents in recent years of any Call of Duty team stepping in to seriously alter in-game content due to a political or social controversy. For that matter, it’s fairly common for streamers to remain publically apolitical due to either their personal preferences or a desire to not alienate potential viewers. This situation is obviously dragging views on major social issues into the forefront, which could eventually cause more streamers to start answering more questions.

Generally speaking, the Call of Duty franchise has had a close relationship with its streamers and those streamers’ individual communities. While not every Call of Duty streamer or player is protesting the game over this matter, this is one of the most significant splinterings we’ve seen between those groups outside of relatively minor disagreements over creative decisions. As Warzone 2‘s Season 4 update launches today, it remains to be seen what impact this protest will have on the battle royale and if either side will give in.