Since the release of Hogwarts Legacy's reveal trailer in 2020, the controversy surrounding the author of the beloved Harry Potter series has spilled onto discussions revolving around the wizarding RPG.
WB Games Avalanche has had to negotiate the ramifications of these controversies while attempting to mitigate such damage.
The team behind Hogwarts Legacy has repeatedly stated that J.K. Rowling is not directly involved with the production, direction of the title, or its narrative. They have specified that the game is merely based on the wizarding world and its lore, while the developers have attempted to chart new territories for players.
However, some players are still concerned about Rowling's involvement in making the title and what she stands to gain from it.
J.K. Rowling's controversial stature casts a grim shadow over Hogwarts Legacy
The reveal trailer for the game dropped after Rowling made her controversial opinion public in June 2020. Since then, anything remotely associated with the Harry Potter universe has become the subject of public scrutiny.
Rowling's infamous essay, tweets, recent interviews, and blog posts over the years have stirred the pot a few times. Since the initial revelation, the author has doubled down on her argument, seemingly bracing for a drawn-out public feud with the broader LGBTQIA+ community.
Her continued stance on these issues and the protracted defense of all such opinions have affected the world of Harry Potter and every other work based within it. This also includes WB Games Avalanche's upcoming wizarding title, Hogwarts Legacy.
The FAQ page for the game clarified the studio's stance to concerned audiences. Elaborating on J.K. Rowling's involvement in the game's development, the developers stated that this would be a new story rooted in the larger HP universe.
"Each experience offered under Portkey Games will take place in the wizarding world and be authentic to it. J.K. Rowling is supportive of Portkey Games and has entrusted the design and creation of the games to Warner Bros. Games and the developers involved. Her team has also collaborated with Warner Bros. Games on all aspects of Hogwarts Legacy to ensure it remains a true part of the Wizarding World experience and is in line with the creativity and magic that fans expect. The story showcased in the game is not a new story from J.K. Rowling."
Developers clearly stated that Rowling is aware of the game's development and supports Portkey Games' vision. They further stated that:
"Portkey Games will enable developers to create a variety of new and immersive gaming experiences that are all inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World. These experiences have not been written by J.K. Rowling and will not be direct adaptations of the books and films. These are games that have been created for the fans, by game-makers who themselves are fans of and have been inspired by the Wizarding World."
They continued by noting that:
"Each experience offered under Portkey Games will take place in the wizarding world and will be authentic to it. J.K. Rowling is supportive of Portkey Games and has entrusted the design and creation of the games to WB Games and the developers involved."
After the release of the gameplay trailer in March 2022, in a dedicated State of Play, the controversy surrounding the game raged online on Reddit, Twitter, and other platforms. Fans and critics vociferously made their arguments and passionately defended them. It was clear then that the gap between the two sides was not going to be easily bridged.
For many, engaging with the game would grant Rowling more financial and cultural capital. They say that the controversial author could use the momentum to further her opinions, which they say harms society.
Rowling's controversial opinions about the trans community came as a shock to Potterheads globally. The once jolly fandom is now split on the issue, although most support inclusivity. This is because the Harry Potter universe has generally preached the values of love, diversity, and acceptance.
Those looking forward to the game pointed out that the game's developers have the most to lose if the title fails due to its light association with Rowling. Her financial gains would be minimal, but the years of hard work put into Hogwarts Legacy would go to waste.
Hogwarts Legacy developers made a concerted effort to make the game more inclusive to players worldwide
The wizarding RPG will provide players with a trans-inclusive character creation option. It was reported that several development team members pushed hard for this as they were "uncomfortable with Rowling's position and rattled by the effects she had on the game."
Although it is clear from the official communications that Rowling has no direct involvement in making Hogwarts Legacy, plenty of people are uncomfortable with the association and the stance she has taken in recent years. One can only hope that gamers will give Hogwarts Legacy a fair shot.