Hogwarts Legacy Controversy Explained: Why Are Fans Calling To Boycott?
Hogwarts Legacy launches on February 10, and it's one of the most hotly anticipated games of 2023. It may even be one of the most eagerly awaited games of the last several years, but there has been plenty of controversy surrounding the digital trip to the magical school of witchcraft and wizardry
If you're not on Twitter regularly, though, you may have missed franchise creator J.K. Rowling's tweets about the trans community that have led many to boycott the game.
Here’s an explainer of the Hogwarts Legacy controversy, and a reminder that trans rights are human rights.
Hogwarts Legacy Controversy Explained
Hogwarts Legacy has been in development for several years, and had been leaked on Reddit as early as 2018.
While one of the studio's lead designers, Troy Leavitt, left the project in 2021 following the discovery of a series of YouTube videos denouncing social justice and defending figures including John Lasseter, accused of sexual harassment, Rowling herself has been the primary reason for many to encourage a boycott.
The writer, who created the Harry Potter franchise, has made numerous comments that attack transgender people (you can find a list here, courtesy of LGBTQ+ charity GLAAD) over the last few years, but she published an essay in June of 2020 that focused on reasons to be "worried about trans activism."
Rowling referred to the ongoing “bathroom debate”, saying that “when you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside.”
In the same year, Rowling’s Troubled Blood novel featured a cisgender male serial killer that dresses up as a woman while committing crimes. LGBTQ+ charity Mermaids condemned it as "a long-standing and somewhat tired trope, responsible for the demonization of a small group of people”.
Alongside transphobia, the World of Magic franchise has also been accused of antisemitic tropes involving the way it portrays Goblins – something that has permeated the books, movies, and now Hogwarts Legacy with a “Goblin Rebellion” side quest.
Will J.K. Rowling Benefit From Hogwarts Legacy?
While J.K. Rowling created the Harry Potter series, she is not involved in the development of Hogwarts Legacy. In an FAQ section on the game’s website, developers Avalanche Software have explained the following:
“J. K. Rowling is not involved in the creation of the game, but as creator of the wizarding world and one of the world’s greatest storytellers, her extraordinary body of writing is the foundation of all projects in the Wizarding World."
“This is not a new story from J. K. Rowling, however we have collaborated closely with her team on all aspects of the game to ensure it remains in line with the magical experiences fans expect.”
Still, given J.K. Rowling’s position as the franchise’s creator, she is likely to earn huge royalties from the game – especially given the fact the game appears to be riding high in preorder charts.
Thank you for reading our explainer of the Hogwarts Legacy controversy so far. Please consider supporting trans rights charities where possible. You can find a list of Rowling's anti-trans comments here, courtesy of GLAAD.