The Hogwarts Legacy Controversy

Elijah Shinnick, Staff Writer

For the most part, video game releases encounter very little pushback. Some may be upset that the game didn’t come to their console of choice or that it took years to release after it was announced, but that seemingly is the extent of players’ online discourse. 

That could not be said about Avalanche studio’s new game, Hogwarts Legacy.

The amount of social commentary, attacks on players who decided to pick the game up and the vile discourse that is still occurring is unlike anything ever seen in the gaming world. People are at war, and it feels like we’ll be hearing about this for a long long time. 

The root of the problem is simple to find — it starts with Harry Potter creator, J.K Rowling. Besides being known as a famous author, she is now known by a different title: a transphobic.  

Over the years, she’s let her options be known for all to hear, and to cut a long and painful story short, people hate her for it. Fans felt betrayed, and because of her actions, many people left the fandom altogether. So when a new game was announced in 2020 that was to be set in the Harry Potter universe, the backlash started immediately. 

Articles at the time questioned what Rowling’s involvement would be. A FAQ section on the Hogwarts Legacy site read, “ J.K. Rowling was not involved in the creation of the game,” but that wasn’t enough for some. She would be getting paid royalties for them using her property, and even if she had no involvement, her name would forever be tied to the project. 

Boycotts were called, and with the release of the game coming in February 2023, the worst was yet to come. 

In late January, TikToks of creators saying that if you played Hogwarts Legacy, you’d be transphobic started making the rounds. Most ended up being made fun of and forgotten, but when the game started making the rounds of review sites, things quickly got out of hand. 

Outlets gave the game rather high reviews, with game site IGN in particular giving the game a 9/10. What was odd about the review is that a good chunk of it was spent on Rowling and her controversies, and at points, it felt like the reviewer didn’t even like the game they were covering.  Theories of it being a paid review quickly spread across Twitter, with some rather compelling evidence to back it up. 

Popular site WIRED gave the game a 1/10, citing Rowling and her ideas as dangerous and not worth supporting. If anything, this was not a great look for Avalanche Studios. 

When players got their hands on it, a new method of attack was created. Gamers who live-streamed their playthrough on Twitch, a popular site for gamers to stream their gameplay in front of an audience, were funneled into a site called “Have they streamed THAT wizard game,” where you’d insert the creator’s user name to find out if they had streamed the game or not.

Twitch has been the stomping ground for this behavior. A now infamous clip from GirlfriendReviews shows the creator crying in the background after reading the comments the chat had made towards her. Because of this, many big creators on the site have chosen to not stream the game at all, citing instances like this as making it not worth it. 

Despite all this, Hogwarts Legacy has gone on to become the #1 Single Player game ever on Twitch, with 1.28M peak concurrent viewers at launch. The game is also selling very well, with some estimating that the sales will eventually top 10 million.

This is a messy situation, and everyone has their own opinion on it. Whether this situation will die out quickly or over a long period of time remains to see, but in the meantime, the discourse online will remain as heated as ever.