If there’s one way to make enemies with your own customers, it’s to take a hard political stance and then begin enacting censorship and bans for anyone practicing wrongthink. This appears to be the case with Playtonic, who opted to remove popular YouTuber Jon-Tron from the upcoming Yooka-Laylee over comments he made on Twitter, and then they began censoring the forums and banning users who protested their move.
GamesIndustry.biz received word from Playtonic, who stated…
“We recently became aware of comments made by voice artist JonTron after development on Yooka-Laylee had been completed, […] “JonTron is a talented video presenter who we were initially, two years ago, happy to include as a voice contributor in our game. However, in light of his recent personal viewpoints we have made the decision to remove JonTron’s inclusion in the game via a forthcoming content update.”
JonTron, real name Jon Jafari, has been labeled by the media as a racist and white nationalist, despite being an Iranian immigrant. JonTron released a video explaining himself, which you can view below.
Regardless of JonTron’s attempt to quell the fires and quench the thirst for those seeking witch hunts, Playtonic had already decided to toe the political line rolled out by mainstream media and removed JonTron’s character from Yooka-Laylee.
“We would like to make absolutely clear that we do not endorse or support JonTron’s personal viewpoints and that, as an external fan contributor, he does not represent Playtonic in any capacity. Playtonic is a studio that celebrates diversity in all forms and strives to make games that everyone can enjoy. As such, we deeply regret any implied association that could make players feel anything but 100% comfortable in our game worlds, or distract from the incredible goodwill and love shown by our fans and Kickstarter backers.”
Some found this to be an interesting reaction given that when former BioWare designer, Manveer Heir, made openly hostile and racist remarks against whites, he was supported by the studio heads, and managed to finish up his work on Mass Effect: Andromeda before leaving the studio, without any public reprimanding from the developers.
Nevertheless, JonTron responded, kindly wishing them the best with their launch.
Unfortunate to see Playtonic remove me from Yooka Laylee, but I understand their decision. I wish them the best with their launch!
— Jon Jafari (@JonTronShow) March 23, 2017
A lot of fans came out in support of JonTron after Playtonic announced that they would be removing his character from the game based on comments he made that they didn’t agree with, politically.
The community manager for Playtonic responded by deleting the threads and banning users. User Punished Stitch posted up the image of the ban he received for saying that that Playtonic was pushing an ideological agenda.
yooka laylee banning people on steam. devs are doubling down pic.twitter.com/cvdhtqzz86
— STANDING ON THE EDGE (@PunishedStitch) March 23, 2017
This issue is gaining traction as other users are also expressing discontent over being censored for supporting JonTron, and being displeased with a game they financially backed turning into a sociopolitical platform.
“So just because someone has a different ♥♥♥♥ing view than you guys you’re gonna remove them from your game and then also ban people on steam? what the ♥♥♥♥ is that ♥♥♥♥?”
“ I hate politics. they make awesome people look bad, the best of friends enemies, and are completely unnecessary. i love you guys. and no doubt this game will be amazing. but…. yeesh. i dont think jon would have made bad comments in your game. I mean, this is purely why i dont like politics. they cause more headaches than they are worth. i’d keep jon in, regardless of what he said you guys NEED to be professionals and keep him in.”
“Go ahead. Lock this thread like all the others. Try to censor us. Try to stifle discussion. Ignore the outrage. Ignore your lost profits too. Just know that you will never – for any reason,at any point, in any way – get a single dime out of me.”
It appears as if Playtonic will continue to double down and divide their community over choosing to remove JonTron from the game.
Gamers who had hoped to play Yooka-Laylee and escape from the divisive politics currently ruining the gaming community – egged on by sites like Polygon, Kotaku, the Wall Street Journal and Rock, Paper, Shotgun – will be disappointed knowing that the game now has a very staunch political stance. Some have said that Playtonic coming out as Social Justice Warriors (SJW for short) has sealed the deal for them and they will be canceling their pre-orders, issuing refunds and no longer supporting the developers.
Yooka-Laylee is due for release on April 11th for home consoles and PC.