The phrase history always repeats itself is nowhere more true than on the Internet. Only difference is that the person who wrote that originally believed it repeats itself after 10’s of years, if not hundreds. They don’t realize that on the Internet, it can repeat itself in just a few. Sometimes one. Sometimes not even. It’s amazing. Well, as always, this comes in the world of video games, where we get another wonderful instance of politics and video games colliding into a massive garbage fire. One that looks to do irreparable harm to this video game’s reputation at exactly the worst time. I am, of course, talking about the spiritual successor to Banjo Kazooie, entitled Yooka-Laylee and the company behind it.
For those who don’t know, the YouTuber JonTron just did a stream with someone where he talked about political views on immigration and other issues. After an off-color comment by JonTron, the Internet lost its fucking mind. As always, the utterly-broken sites like Kotaku and Polygon were quick to point out how JonTron has been utterly destroyed. Except, you know, for his still rising sub count on YouTube. There’s that. And since the cowards at NeoGaf can’t help but want to fuck with people’s livelihoods and passion projects, they decided to hit up the company behind the Kickstarter success story who had just featured JonTron as a voice actor. This was something that was a huge collaboration and got a lot of good press all around. The company was told, and then released a statement that they were cutting JonTron from the game in a patch. JonTron, while disappointed, released a statement saying that he understood and still wished them the best. Stupid, doesn’t look great for the company, but that’s it, right?
Wrong! A lot of backers of the game decided to take to Steam and the game’s main page forums and demand they get their money back. Okay. Maybe just sit tight and let this blow over? Be quiet and wait it out? Not a bad strategy. Except, that’s not the strategy that the team behind the publishing of Yooka-Laylee (Team 17) did. Instead, they decided to shit-talk the people who were mad at the company. They decided to lock down forums and then get people banned. They went on a huge tirade attacking the same people who backed the game and were unhappy. What a brilliant move. A brilliant, horribly stupid move.
A YouTuber who I very much happen to like made a very level-headed video about this, but it seems he was either unaware or just didn’t want to get into the ugly side of the politics of this whole affair. He argued that the backlash from the SJW-controlled game’s media is worse than the backlash from those who may be disappointed in this whole event. Part of his argument is that this is a game that mostly appeals to children, and when you have a corrupt gaming press spinning this game company as supporters of an “alt-right neo Nazi” (No joke, it’s everywhere online), they will run from it. I would argue that while he makes a point worth considering, there is some history that he doesn’t seem to take into account. See, we’ve seen this story before, haven’t we?
Let’s talk about Dina from Mighty No. 9. Yeah, the Way Back Machine of the Internet. Here is a video that goes into more detail about the whole affair, but I’ll give the Cliff Note’s version. During the development of Mighty No. 9, the company behind promoting the game hired a woman named Dina, who decided that when people were going to complain about the political input that she was having and wanted their money back, she would shit-talk them and block them. It began a tragic tale of the downfall of Dina and how ugly things got for the company Deep Silver. Granted, the game itself fucked with the rest of it, but still. Dina decided that instead of doing her job and just promoting the game, she was going to get political. She had to make sure that everyone knew that if you don’t support the political stuff in the game, you are a terrible person. It left a terrible legacy on the game that still is the first thing that comes up when you look for it on Google.
If the company behind Yooka-Laylee doesn’t clamp down on Team 17, who is promoting this game, the same thing will happen here too. Only difference is that it is happening at the worst possible moment – right as the game is about to launch. If the biggest news coming out about this game is the garbage fire that this shitty PR company is doing, then this is the wrong foot forward. Dragnix argued that parents were going to be the ones who mainly look into this game, and that may be true. But here’s the other thing – when you are a new company that is just starting out, having your brand loyalty fucked up by politicization gone wrong is not what you need. Playtonic needs to kick Team 17 to the curb, along with their blue-hair advocates who have this weird idea that hair dyed a color not found in nature is diversity.
The PR lesson is this – if you are a company that is looking to outsource the promotion of your product to another company, then you REALLY need to watch your ass in what that company is saying about your product and the people that you want to buy your product. After all, it isn’t Team 17 that people are mad at, it’s Playtonic. None of the news is talking about this shit PR company who promotes this game. And if there is a run on brand loyalty before their first product is even out, what is going to draw people back? Dragnix argues that if a game is good enough, people will come. I respectfully disagree. That only matters if you are a company with brand recognition for great success. I can find out that Naughty Dog takes what Anita Sarkeesian says seriously and still buy their games because I know that they have a brand that demands quality. Playtonic doesn’t have that loyalty. And now that their first major project is coming out, this couldn’t have happened at a worst time. But hey, they are “inclusive.” Let’s hope that works out for them.
Until next time, a quote,
“Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” – Jeff Bezos