Renowned Twitch streamer Nicholas Kolcheff, better known as “Nickmercs”, has lost his unique operator skin in the video game Call of Duty after making a comment that was interpreted as anti-LGBTQ. Kolcheff had been the first streamer ever to receive a personalized skin in the game, an honor previously bestowed upon famous personalities like NBA star Kevin Durant and horror icon Leatherface. The concept of a “skin” pertains to purchasable in-game cosmetic items that allow players to customize their characters’ appearances during gameplay.
The controversy was sparked by Kolcheff’s response to a thread by esports Hall of Fame broadcaster Chris Puckett, who had shared an article detailing a conflict outside a Glendale, California, school board meeting. The article reported an altercation between Armenian and Hispanic parents protesting the school board’s pro-LGBTQ agenda for young students, and Antifa members who were present as counter-protesters. Puckett’s commentary on the situation was that Americans were in a distressing state, and that people should be allowed to love whom they wish and lead their own lives.
In a reaction that has since garnered 12.8 million views, Kolcheff tweeted, “leave little children alone. That’s the real issue.” This comment prompted the game developer Activision to remove Nickmercs’ Spartan-themed operator skin from the Call of Duty store. The company announced the decision via its official Twitter account, stating, “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.”
Kolcheff addressed the issue in a subsequent video post. Although he clarified that his intention was not to offend anyone, he did not apologize for his tweet, stating, “I don’t think it’s wrong.” Kolcheff expanded on his stance, arguing that discussions about sexual morality should take place at home rather than in the classroom. This declaration ignited an intense online debate, with some applauding his viewpoint while others, particularly LGBTQ advocates, expressed their outrage.