If you're wondering where Nickmercs' Call of Duty skin is, you're not alone. Earlier this week, Call of Duty fans noticed that the skin based on the likeness of the prominent stream and FaZe Clan co-owner is no longer available in Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone. This was initially believed to have been caused by the player's controversial remarks. Activision Blizzard confirmed this in a later tweet.
The incident began when Nickmercs responded to a tweet from esports commentator Chris Puckett who was reflecting on an altercation between LGBTQ+ activists and anti-LGBTQ+ hate groups at a school board meeting in California. The school board had convened to vote on recognizing June as Pride Month. Puckett's tweet called for understanding and acceptance, urging people to "let people love who they love and live your own life".
Nickmercs' controversial response to Puckett’s tweet was, "They should leave little children alone. That’s the real issue.” This might seem innocent on the surface, but this is a rhetoric often employed by homophobes, equating LGBTQ+ acceptance or acknowledgment with a supposed threat to children.
Nickmercs' point of view was criticized for misrepresenting the LGBTQ+ community's intent and contributing to a harmful narrative that targets this community.
The tweet and subsequent refusal to apologize prompted the removal of the Nickmercs Operator bundle from the Call of Duty store. The official Call of Duty Twitter account responded to this event by saying:
Due to recent events, we have removed the ‘Nickmercs Operator’ bundle from the Modern Warfare II and Warzone store. We are focused on celebrating PRIDE with our employees and our community.
Despite the backlash, Nickmercs stood by his comment, expressing his belief in a livestream that it wasn’t wrong and that he would not apologize. He justified his statement by arguing that he and his wife should be the ones to educate their child about such issues.
Nickmercs' unapologetic stance has not gone unnoticed, drawing mixed reactions from the gaming community. Some are arguing that this is an infringement of Nickmercs and his right to freedom of speech. On the other hand, there are those who laud Activision for taking swift action in support of the LGBTQ+ community, viewing this as a declarative statement of allyship from one of the largest gaming publishers and franchises.
In the midst of the storm, it's crucial to underscore that the issue isn't about stifling free speech; it's about standing against hate speech and ensuring that the gaming community remains a safe space for all players, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Activision's actions align with their stated aim of celebrating PRIDE within their community, and it sends a clear message that discrimination and bigotry have no place within their game platforms.
The story continues to evolve as the gaming community grapples with this ongoing controversy. Ultimately, though, the event serves as a reminder of the power and responsibility of popular gaming franchises to model positive behavior like acceptance and inclusivity.
It remains to be seen whether Nickmercs will make an official statement about the skin's removal, but one thing is clear: Call of Duty's commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community is unwavering.
In the meantime, this incident doesn't bode well for FaZe Clan, which is currently in the midst of its worst stretch yet. On the other hand, Activision Blizzard stands to benefit from this as it prepares to announce the next Call of Duty game.