Behaviour Interactive will remove The Cannibal's unlockable faces in the next Dead by Daylight (opens in new tab) mid-chapter update, following complaints that they're being used to incite racist harassment against players.
The Cannibal was added to Dead by Daylight in the Leatherface DLC (opens in new tab) released in 2017. He has the ability to unlock the faces of Dead by Daylight's four original survivors by sacrificing them 25 times, and can then wear those faces as a grisly cosmetic. One of those survivors, Claudette Morel, is a Black woman, leading some players and viewers to complain that the game was enabling a form of blackface.
The cosmetic has also been used in racist abuse of Black players in livestreams. ("Tunnelling," an activity described in the video below, is the act of ignoring everything else in the game (including other players) in order to focus on one survivor in particular, even when it's strategically disadvantageous.)
Complaints about the mask aren't new—this Reddit thread (opens in new tab) asking if the mask should be removed, for instance, is almost a full year old—and Behaviour Interactive has finally decided to address the issue by removing all of the unlockable masks from the game.
"Members of the community have shared their experiences with people targeting and harassing them while using some of these masks," the studio said in a developer update (opens in new tab). "These reports were disheartening to hear, and we absolutely condemn this behaviour. We are not comfortable having these masks in the game when they are used as a tool to spread hate. To that end, we will be removing The Cannibal’s unlockable faces in this upcoming Mid-Chapter."
Any Dead by Daylight player who has used The Cannibal prior to the rollout of the update will be given 6,000 Iridescent Shards, an in-game currency used to purchase Teachable Perks from the Shrine of Secrets, in compensation.
Predictably the announcement has sparked some backlash, including a handful of negative user reviews on Steam and negative comments on Reddit and Twitter. But there's also support for the decision from content creators and Behaviour Interactive employees, including senior character artist Eric Bourdages, the creator of the masks, who said on Twitter that he's "glad they are being removed."
As the artist who made the bubba masks, I'm glad they are being removed. As cool as it would have been to have an easter egg for all survivors. The reality of it is there were many players using them in harmful ways. Gamers, no matter the game please treat others with respect.January 4, 2022
The latest Dead by Daylight mid-chapter update will make a number of other changes to grade rewards, add-ons, and perks. It's set to go live on the Player Test Build (opens in new tab) servers on Wednesday.