Playtonic Games, the developers behind upcoming title Yooka-Laylee, has dropped YouTube personality JonTron from the game's voice cast after he made a series of comments supporting racist, anti-immigrant viewpoints.
Jon Jafari, the YouTuber's real name, issued the comments in question on March 12, tweeting a defense of Iowa Representative Steve King's contested claim that civilization can't be restored "with somebody else's babies."
JonTron's Racist, Anti-Immigrant Comments
As Gizmodo reports, Jafari's tweets led to a conversation with another YouTube personality Steve Bonnell, better known as Destiny, in which Jafari went on to defend his positions, adding a claim about how Mexicans were somehow attempting to recapture American land, and saying that "we don't need immigrants from incompatible places." He made more controversial comments, such as the claim that even wealthy blacks commit more crimes than poor whites in the United States. Needless to say his statements sparked ample controversy from internet denizens, especially after Jafari decided not to backpedal, but to double down his statements.
Playtonic Games tells Gamesindustry.biz that it only became aware of Jafari's comments after development for Yooka-Laylee had already been completed. Because of which, the developers have decided that his voice work for the game will be promptly removed via a forthcoming content update. Yooka-Laylee hits shelves April 11.
When it became apparent that Jafari was a fan of Banjo-Kazooie, a beloved 3D platforming franchise made by people who made Yooka-Laylee, the developers offered Jafari a voice acting gig in Yooka-Laylee in February 2015, which is months before Playtonic officially launched the Kickstarter campaign. Yooka-Laylee is seen as a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie.
After Jafari's comments were publicized, he lost thousands of subscribers from JonTronShow, his personal channel, though he still has over 3.1 million subscribers at present. Jafari is the cofounder of Normal Boots, home for a number of gaming-related channels such as PeanutButterGamer, Did You Know Gaming, The Completionist, and ProJared. After a stint of mounting pressure, Jafari attempted to clarify statements he made via a short video, saying that he made a lot of comments that could be misconstrued in a number of ways.
On top of cutting ties with, and sternly distancing itself away from the implications of statements made by Jafari, Playtonic Games reiterated its support for diversity.
"Playtonic is a studio that celebrates diversity in all forms and strives to make games that everyone can enjoy," it said, expressing regret over any implied associations that "could make players feel anything but 100% comfortable in our game worlds."
Yooka-Laylee is developed by Playtonic Games and published by Team17. It will be released as a multiplatform title, set to hit Linux, macOS, Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch — a Wii U port was originally planned but later canceled.
Playtonic Games is a group made up of key personnel from Rare during the heydays of the Nintendo 64. Like how Banjo-Kazooie is wordplay for musical instruments banjo and kazoo, Yooka-Laylee is a play on ukulele.