Nick ‘Nickmercs’ Kolcheff Wants To Be Gaming’s First Business Mogul

The 32-year-old gamer continues his never-ending quest for more wins, more deals, and more money, even as his viewership dwindles and his exclusive streaming deal dies.

AhAnyone who still thinks gamers are anti-social geeks living in their parents’ basements has clearly never met Nick Korchev. At a meet-and-greet event a few blocks away from his TwitchCon in San Diego in October, his 32-year-old megastreamer, known as “Nickmercs,” wore his black SUV, sunglasses, and gold chain. , entourage and more, arrive with all of the traditional celebrity bragging rights. He sports buys out his entire bar and offers free food, drinks, personalized his T-his shirts, and other giveaways to his over 1,000 fans who call himself “MFAM.”

As gaming continues to penetrate the mainstream, Kolcheff has been at the forefront of first-generation gamers like Ninja and PewDiePie, earning millions of dollars with millions of online followers. Content revenue from his videos and live streams, platform exclusivity deals, and an increase in brands his sponsorships will bring him to $15 million in 2022.

In his view, it’s just the beginning. He admits to having what he calls an “addiction to more.” So he spent his $500,000 of his own money on the San Diego event. This is an unusual move among the creator, who hopes to deepen his relationship with the community he relies on to support his entrepreneurial ambitions. If Conor McGregor can be a business mogul beyond sports, Kolcheff sees no reason why he can’t be the first to do the same in gaming: “This is $10 million a year or $20 million from him.” is the way to be $100 million,” he says. forbeswithout a hint of sarcasm.

Confidence and candor have been Nickmercs’ calling card since he first began airing his show. gears of war Gameplay on Twitch’s predecessor in 2010. Most importantly, he’s never boring.

Demand for gaming content exploded during the Covid-19 lockdown, with hours watched across Twitch increasing by 80% between March 2020 and March 2021. It also erupted in a bidding war between platforms such as Twitch, YouTube and Facebook to sign exclusive deals with top streamers. These deals quickly exceeded millions of dollars. This does not include other basic payments such as channel subscription splits or donations from viewers.

Kolcheff signed a new two-year deal with Twitch in October 2021. Call of Duty: Warzone The stream regularly draws over 50,000 concurrent viewers, and several other high-profile creators had just defected to YouTube. No need to do this. Kolcheff made his $8 million overall in 2021 and his $15 million in 2022, but sponsorship and licensing revenue remained flat, and viewership numbers, by Kolcheff’s own admission, were down. In this one year he decreased by almost half.

The platform monopoly bubble is almost certainly starting to burst. Twitch had another wave of streamers last September. A few weeks later, Twitch announced that starting in June 2023, he would reduce his revenue share on subscriptions held by top creators from 70% to 50%. This change alone would cost Kolcheff more than $50,000 a month. Twitch did not respond to requests for comment.

Tyler “Ninja” Blevins is perhaps the best example of how volatile the industry can be. 2020 forbes He’s estimated to have made $17 million thanks to a massive exclusive deal with Microsoft
Streaming service Mixer. When Microsoft folded Mixer after less than a year, Blevins received a lump sum, but returned to Twitch with a fraction of his previous viewership. In September, he announced that he would lose his Twitch partner status and would be streaming on all platforms simultaneously.

Kolcheff is one of the successors to Blevins, the top of the gaming category. During the pandemic, he was a mix of a relatable Midwestern common man and a hyper-masculine, ambitious cool guy. fortnite He has become the perfect bridge between gamers and mainstream brands looking to reach them. Over the past two years, he has signed his Under Armor, UFC, Beats By Dre, and more to his 2022 contracts totaling $2.7 million.

Kolcheff manager Justin Miclat said:

Kolcheff’s lifeblood has always been the envy of the creative world: the community ‘MFAM’ or the ‘Mercs family’. That’s why he’s invested heavily in making sure his fanbase feels connected to each other, not just him, and as a result, his various ventures, gaming or not We are cultivating viewers who mobilize to support us.

“Nickmercs is probably one of the few creators who truly embodies what it means to nurture a community. fortnite Streamer and longtime friend. “People who are Nickmercs watchers and part of MFAM really feel part of a larger group.”

The 2021 live event in Florida, which cost Kolchev $500,000, similar to the San Diego event, drew more than 6,000 fans from across the country to meet him and each other. Beau Tiongson is one such fan he traveled from Austin, Texas for the event. During the pandemic, he said he watched his Kolcheff stream for hours a day, and we estimate he still watches four to five hours a week. He says he met some of his best friends on the channel’s live chat. He likens it to a cult.

Tiongson, 32, said, “He’s still the same dumb, dumb guy he was before, but we’ve seen him grow into a millionaire. He doesn’t need us out of the game.” It showed me,” he said.

Now is the time for Kolcheff to seize his chance. His pockets are filled with Twitch cash and his premium his sponsorship deals. Kolcheff and Miclat believe MFAM can be used to create new businesses that are less dependent on market conditions. Last year he made $600,000, revamping a hitherto neglected merchandising business could easily be accomplished, but in the future, he’ll be eyeing bigger ventures like Nickmercs brand tequila. I’m here.

“I went there and this is shit, I know, but it’s our shit,” Kolchev says. In my opinion, the hard part is already done and we have a huge community that believes in our steps. ”

Still, company ownership is not easy. In 2019, Kolcheff very publicly divorced her e-sports organization 100 Thieves, claiming they were verbally divorced. provided 5% ownership A start-up by founder Matthew Hague, which received far fewer numbers when the paperwork was created. Say you will never make amends. May, forbes 100 Thieves was worth $460 million.

Rival esports organization FaZe Clan signed Nickmercs in 2019, and CEO Lee Trink says Kolcheff now has a “meaningful stake in the stock” of the publicly traded company. . But those stocks have lost more than 90% of their value since FaZe’s share price plummeted in September. Kolcheff’s other investment so far is a small stake in fitness recovery device maker Hyperice.

At 32, Kolcheff is pretty old for a gamer. He’s starting to notice how long gaming sessions are taking its toll on his hands, and how his knees are ticking as he walks to the fridge. We are expecting our first child. But he is not ready to give it up. In fact, these days, he’s leaning towards a more competitive game.he lost interest Call of Duty: Warzonethe game he rode reached peak viewership, but found a passion he hadn’t felt in years in a far less popular game. apex legendsHe played hours off-stream just to improve his skills and achieved the highest rank of ‘apex predator’ within a few months. In July, he received an invitation to the Apex Legends Global Series, his circuit of gaming pros. vertex The team finished 18th in the world throughout the fall season.

There is usually a clear distinction between esports athletes and content creators. Competitive players see creators as something of a circus act for the masses, spending long hours for relatively small prize pools. It means sacrificing , and possibly sacrificing sponsorship as well. Kolchev did it anyway. As expected, his stream and video concurrent viewership dropped significantly, but he settled for the 13th highest among English-language streamers on Twitch at around 25,000. His 50,000 active subscriber count remains his fourth across platforms.

“Everybody was making fun of him like a streamer. You can’t compete. apex legends world player. “He’s way taller than many people thought, even me. He definitely proved many people wrong.”

Korchev has had a level of success that can take his feet off the pedal. But that’s not his way.

“More,” he said when asked what was next.

As an example, he tells the story of a $2 million house he bought in 2019. Because he wanted to be closer to his family in Michigan. ’” He and his wife called it a “forever home,” imagining a room where they would raise their children and wash the dirt off after soccer practice.

“We sold it and bought something in Florida for three to four times the price. Now this is our forever home,” he says. “But in five years, we might have some kids and a new home. So the goalposts are always moving. I always want more.”

If you ask him what his goals are for next year, he will say that first and foremost is to be number one. vertex world team. But he also wants to be the world’s biggest streamer, highest paid gamer, best entrepreneur, and best husband and father, so let’s see if in a few years he’ll get his $15 million instead of his $15 million. What if you could only make $10 million?

“I’m not mad about it, but I’m not happy,” Kolchev says. I sit down and distract myself to see if I can get old.”

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