Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 screenshot with a rainbow flag in the background.

‘Call of Groomers’ Boycott Even More Pathetic Than Bud Light, Target Anti-LGBTQ Backlash

First there was Bud Light. Then there was Target. There was an attempt on Chick-fil-A. Now, it’s Call of Duty. The far-right is trying to boycott Activision Blizzard’s popular shooter over the company’s stance on LGBTQ rights, and it may just be one of the most foolish conservative backlashes yet.

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On June 7, FaZe Clan co-founder Nicholas “NICKMERCS” Kolcheff tweeted about the violent anti-LGBTQ protesters targeting a California school board after the board decided to honor Pride month. In response to the news, NICKMERCS tweeted, “They should leave little children alone. That’s the real issue.” The esports star was, of course, uttering a dog whistle suggesting that LGBTQ adults are grooming children.

NICKMERCS went on to explain on a Twitch stream that he and his wife “want to be the ones to talk to our kids about things like that.”

“The video bothered me. I just don’t think it’s any place for a teacher or a school, I don’t think it’s the place to speak about things like that,” he said. “And it’s not that I think it shouldn’t be spoken about.”

In direct response, Activision Blizzard decided to distance itself from the esports figure by pulling the NICKMERCS Operator bundle from both Modern Warfare 2 and Call of Duty’s battle royale mode, Warzone. “We are focused on celebrating PRIDE with our employees and our community,” the official Call of Duty account tweeted.

‘No one is forcing you to tweet stupid stuff like this’

Smelling an opportunity for another Bud Light-style anti-LGBTQ boycott, right-wing content creators started drumming up support against Call of Duty. Right-wing internet persona Tim Pool called the game “Call of Groomers,” claiming, “[it’s] reasonable to say COD is run by pedophiles.” Bigots have since echoed the allegation, claiming they are uninstalling the game, deleting their account, and mad that they can’t play Call of Duty anymore.

“I play the new MW2 regularly. I guess that has to change,” one right-winger tweeted, to over 3.8 thousand likes. “Ugh. Thoughts? We bud lighting these bitches?”

It’s very unlikely that a Call of Duty boycott would succeed in changing Activision Blizzard’s mind, as the franchise is simply too large to be moved by angry right-wing nutjobs. Last year’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 had the bestselling opening weekend in Call of Duty history, and the multiplayer shooter quickly became 2022’s bestselling game in the U.S. Even though the game’s player count has plummeted dramatically over the past year, a new Call of Duty installment is reportedly right around the corner. A new release is sure to reinvigorate sales, regardless of any right-wingers who uninstall the game.

Right-wingers likely have an uphill battle if they want to make Call of Duty cave, in no small part because Activision Blizzard has traditionally marketed its games to its LGBTQ players. Call of Duty has taken numerous steps over the years to include LGBTQ players, from non-binary player character options to in-game LGBTQ banners. Meanwhile, over at Blizzard, Overwatch 2 has taken increased steps to expand representation for queer players, such as a recent Pride event that offers LGBTQ flag-themed banners, as well as a short story that confirms Pharah’s lesbian sexuality.

Besides, it’s not as if the larger gaming community supports NICKMERC’s comments. His comments remain highly unpopular outside of the right-wing Twitter world.

“People will complain that he’s being ‘cancelled’ but at the end of the day no one is forcing you to tweet stupid stuff like this. You’re going to face consequences,” one r/Games Redditor commented, to over 200 upvotes. “You’re literally stating gay people shouldn’t be acknowledged in society and getting pressed when million dollar companies don’t want to associate themselves with you.”

(featured image: Activision Blizzard, Remix by Ana Valens)

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Ana Valens
Ana Valens (she/her) is a reporter specializing in queer internet culture, online censorship, and sex workers' rights. Her book "Tumblr Porn" details the rise and fall of Tumblr's LGBTQ-friendly 18+ world, and has been hailed by Autostraddle as "a special little love letter" to queer Tumblr's early history. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her ever-growing tarot collection.