Is All This Yooka-Laylee Drama Going to Impact Sales?
A few weeks ago, prolific YouTube personality Jon Jafari, commonly known as JonTron, took part in a debate on Twitch with fellow internet personality, Steve Bonnel II, better known as Omnidestiny, after making a series of controversial tweets. During the stream, a number of controversial topics were discussed and JonTron made many disputable claims which could be viewed as hateful or ignorant.
Since the stream, many have been disappointed by some of JonTron's views, while others have been trying to defend them. On March 23, Playtonic Games, creator of upcoming Kickstarter platformer, Yooka-Laylee, released a statement which read:
"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. 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. 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."
Since release of this statement, many internet users have shared their own views on the situation, with some commending Playtonic for their decision while others are seeking refunds. JonTron himself has stated his removal is unfortunate but that he understands Playtonic's decision and wishes them the best of luck with their launch.
The big question is, will this controversy significantly affect sales of the game?
The easy answer is no, probably not, as there are plenty of other more important aspects of said game which are more likely to impact sales.
Minimal Voice Role
Anyone who has played or knows a decent amount about games like Banjo Kazooie, is aware characters don't have fully spoken dialogue, instead having their speech represented by silly sounds.
In addition to this, Jontron only had a minor role, so what Playtonic is removing is rather minimal. Many fans of the game have even claimed if it wasn't for Playtonic's statement, they wouldn't have been aware of JonTron's involvement.
The Update is Optional
Since the removal is coming from an update, those who may not agree with the decision, but still want to play the game can choose not to download it. If the update also contains other fixes, as updates usually do, PC players could always just create a mod putting JonTron's removed part back in.
Geared Toward a Specific Audience
Not everyone enjoys the collect-a-thon 3D platformer genre of the late 90's and early 2000's. This game was initially created for fans of the genre who have felt disappointed by the lack of games in this genre since then, as well as players who felt betrayed by Microsoft's acquisition of Rare and how much the new ownership has changed the company.
Due to the colorful and kid friendly nature of the game, young children may also be interested. It's a strong possibility Playtonic came to this realization, not wanting to have parents concerned over JonTron's involvement. Although the likelihood a young gamer would be aware of this controversy would be relatively low, Playtonic would rather not take the chance.
Getting Mixed Impressions Regardless of Controversy
A game's quality is typically more crucial than a controversy it's connected to. The review embargo for Yooka-Laylee was just lifted on April 4, and so far there seems to be mixed reception.
Those with nostalgia for the Nintendo 64 era platformers seem to enjoy it enough, while many have also claimed the game has not been modernized to its full potential, with even more positive reviews being on the low side.
Kallie Plagge of Gamespot gave the platformer a 6/10, stating:
"Ultimately, Yooka-Laylee’s best and worst aspects come directly from its predecessor. Despite attempts at modernizing the formula, its style of gameplay is still outdated, and it doesn’t stay challenging or interesting for long as a result. But if you’re looking for a faithful return to the Banjo-Kazooie formula, Yooka-Laylee certainly delivers,"
Marty Sliva of IGN gave the game a 7.0/10 and said:
"While it lacks the heart and polish of some of its incredible predecessors, it's a good reminder that this genre, once thought to be dead, still has some life left in it."
In our site's review, Ashley Gill gave the game a rather high 9/10 and claimed:
"Yooka-Laylee breathes new life into the collectathon platformer genre, but those who weren't into it in its heyday may see less mileage here."
On the more negative side, Chelsea Stark of Polygon gave the gave a 5.5/10 and wrote:
"Yooka-Laylee looks the part of an updated platformer, but some of its mechanics should have stayed back in the era it came from. There was a reason we haven't seen more games like Banjo Kazooie on modern platforms, and it wasn't just because Rare as we knew it was gone; its ideas were very specific to a gameplay era that we've evolved past. Fourth-wall breaking dialog, shiny characters and lush graphics can't save Yooka-Laylee from the dated framework that it's built on."
Popular YouTuber, and game reviewer Jim Sterling gave the game a surprisingly low 2/10, finding it unbearable to play, citing poor frame rate and "wonky" physics. In his review he also stated:
"Yooka-Laylee is a game out of time, clinging so desperately to past glories it doesn’t seem to understand the Earth kept spinning after the N64 was discontinued. It’s everything wrong about the formative years of 3D platforming and it somehow retained none of what made the genre’s highlights endure."
The common theme here is that all reviews, positive or negative, seem to agree Yooka-Laylee is a successful recreation of the groundwork laid down by it's predecessors, but a lackluster modernization of a rather outdated concept. The genre Yooka-Laylee was molded from was also from a time when games were still making their first transitions from 2-D to 3-D -- an experimental era when games were still figuring out what works and what doesn't in a three dimensional environment -- so it makes enough sense a game trying to create an improved and more modern version of that could be somewhat difficult.
Yooka-Laylee may only have average sales despite the controversy, but we won't truly know until after the game's release next week.
Yooka-Laylee will be released on April 11th and is coming to PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.