The recent NICKMERCS drama in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 may signal a drastic change for creator collaborations in video games.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 recently had to remove two skin bundles. Just last month, the FPS title announced that it was collaborating with streamers NICKMERCS and TimTheTatman for an Operator skin and gun cosmetics. Many of their fans seemed excited to cop the bundle to support them, but in early June, NICKMERCS made a problematic remark against the LGBTQ+ community, where people accused him of being homophobic and supporting violence against the community. He later addressed the controversy, but said he wasn’t going to apologize for saying that LGBTQ+ people should “stay away from children.” Call of Duty responded by promptly removing his skin bundle from the Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone stores as it’s focused on celebrating Pride Month with its employees and community.
Shortly after this incident, TimTheTatman requested for Activision to remove his Call of Duty skin bundle as well in support of his friend NICKMERCS. The developer quickly obliged, announcing that the streamer’s bundle was pulled from the Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone stores. The whole situation drew contrasting reactions from the streaming community. Many condemned NICKMERCS’ actions and also accused TimTheTatman of being homophobic. Meanwhile, others demanded for Activision to apologize to NICKMERCS, claiming that he didn’t deserve to get punished over what happened. Ultimately, this controversy could have an impact that extends beyond just NICKMERCS.
The NICKMERCS controversy might signal a drastic change in creator collaborations. Because of the severity of what happened between the streamer and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, video game companies like Activision could avoid working with streamers and content creators in the near future. Such collaborations happen with influencers who are either fans of certain video games and have created a name for themselves while playing them, or their branding matches with the company’s vision and goals.
Previously, Activision also worked with famous athletes like Neymar Junior and Kevin Durant to create playable characters in Call of Duty. Other video game titles have also partnered with streamers for exclusive in-game skins. Fortnite came out with a blue-haired Ninja skin to honor one of its top players and streamers. The game would later collaborate with other high-profile brands, like Attack on Titan and Marvel. Another example was Apex Legends collaborating with streamers LuLuLuvely and professional esports teams to create unique gun skins.
On a marketing standpoint, creator collaborations are great sources of revenue for both video game companies and the influencers involved. Apart from adding fresh content, these partnerships are an opportunity to reach a wider audience with the help of the creators’ preferred platforms. This is why it’s important for video game companies to work with and invest on like-minded people who share the same values and perspective towards their product. It’s why Activision banked on NICKMERCS and TimTheTatman, who are both some of the top Call of Duty creators on Twitch and YouTube, respectively.