Seemingly emboldened by the criticism she has received for views judged by many to be transphobic, Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling's recent actions are casting a shadow over the upcoming game Hogwarts Legacy. Officially revealed at yesterday's PlayStation 5 event, many are questioning whether or not they'll buy the open-world Harry Potter universe RPG given its association with Rowling.
Publisher Warner Bros. Interactive has made a small gesture toward distancing Hogwarts Legacy from Rowling. As spotted by Polygon, a new FAQ posted to the WB Games Support page specifies that Rowling herself is not personally involved with Hogwarts Legacy.
"J.K. Rowling is not directly involved in the creation of the game, however, her extraordinary body of writing is the foundation of all projects in the Wizarding World," WB says. "This is not a new story from J.K. Rowling."
Over the past few months, Rowling has gone out of her way to publicly air her views on transgender people, citing "the increasing numbers who seem to be detransitioning" in a lengthy essay as a particular concern. Rowling's fixation on the phenomenon of detransitioning, which experts note occurs rarely in the transgender population, has been characterized by many as fearmongering that undermines the validity of trans people's gender identification.
Rowling's decision to spread her views has also prompted measured statements from Harry Potter-associated companies, including Warner Bros. Pictures, publisher Scholastic, and Universal Parks & Resorts. All three companies claim a commitment to diversity. The three leading stars of the Harry Potter films have issued strong responses to Rowling's statements, each of them affirming that they believe trans people's identities are valid.
"Transgender women are women," wrote Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe in a statement released via The Trevor Project in June. "Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either [Rowling] or I."
Even prior to Hogwarts Legacy's official unveiling, Rowling's views entered the public conversation surrounding the unannounced project. Earlier this summer, Bloomberg reported that some staffers working on Hogwarts Legacy were "uncomfortable" about Rowling's views, with one source having "stressed that Rowling has very little direct involvement" with the game.
Hogwarts Legacy will tell a new story set within the Harry Potter universe during the 1800s. Developed by Avalanche Software, Hogwarts Legacy is planned to launch in 2021 for Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, PS5, and PC.