Yooka-Laylee developer Playtonic has decided to cut a voice role from the game that had been contributed by controversial YouTuber JonTron, after he made a series of comments espousing racist, anti-immigrant viewpoints.
“We recently became aware of comments made by voice artist JonTron after development on Yooka-Laylee had been completed,” Playtonic said in a statement to GamesIndustry.biz, adding that “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.” The game is set for release on April 11.
Playtonic offered a role in Yooka-Laylee to JonTron, whose real name is Jonathan Jafari, in February 2015 — two and a half months before the studio even launched its Kickstarter campaign for the game — after he tweeted about his love for the Banjo-Kazooie series. (Yooka-Laylee is a spiritual successor to that 3D platforming franchise.)
@JonTronShow @grantkirkhope get practising your gobbledygook BK style! A microphone with googly eyes on will be coming your way!
— Playtonic (@PlaytonicGames) February 16, 2015
Jafari, who is of Iranian and Hungarian descent, found himself at the center of an internet firestorm earlier this month for his political positions. After tweeting a defense of a congressman who had expressed white nationalist views, Jafari doubled down in a Twitch stream, parroting distasteful and debunked far-right talking points such as the idea of a Mexican “reconquista” and the claim that even wealthy blacks commit more crimes than poor whites in the U.S.
Gaming's racist and sexist personalities aren't a new threat to children
After Jafari’s views were publicized, he lost thousands of subscribers from his personal YouTube channel, JonTronShow, although he still maintains more than 3.1 million followers there. He is a co-founder of Normal Boots, a hub for a number of gaming-focused YouTube channels. A week after getting himself in hot water, Jafari attempted to clarify his comments in a brief video. “I said lots of stuff that could be misconstrued in all sorts of ways,” he said, offering no apologies.
In addition to removing Jafari from Yooka-Laylee, the studio distanced itself from the YouTuber and expressed its support of diversity.
“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,” the studio said in its statement today. “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.”
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