Hogwarts Legacy, an upcoming role-playing game set in the Harry Potter universe, has been in the works for a long time. The game first entered public consciousness in 2018 when two minutes of off-camera footage leaked online. Comments about the leak were filled with anticipation for a game that promised to bring the childhood dreams of millions to life. In the time since the leak, author J.K. Rowling has voiced numerous problematic opinions about trans people, building to what’s become an ethical crisis within the fandom.
Hogwarts Legacy’s official unveiling has already been overshadowed by Rowling’s offensive words and actions. So is it okay to still enjoy the Potterverse? The answer is yes, because the wizarding world she created has outgrown her.
J.K. Rowling cannot ruin Hogwarts Legacy.
Hogwarts Legacy promises to be the entry point into the magical world of Harry Potter that millions of fans have wanted for years. Harry Potter is more than just the titular character and the narrative penned by Rowling. Fans have kept the franchise alive, taking ownership of the world by crafting their own lore and original characters. All that imagination can’t be silenced. Hogwarts Legacy isn’t an extension of Rowling’s ideology and the world, but a playground for fans by fans.
Publisher Warner Bros. Games has made it clear that Rowling has absolutely no involvement 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,” WBIE notes in an FAQ for the game, adding. “This is not a new story from J.K. Rowling.”
Other than existing in the overall Wizarding World setting, much of the game is original content created by developers Avalanche and Portkey Games as well as the player.
Hogwarts Legacy takes place in the 1800s. That means Harry and his cohorts will not appear in the game. Many of the settings that fans take for granted in the original series won’t exist as they’re commonly known. In a PlayStation Blog post, the game’s narrative lead Adam Ropp discusses the adjustments made for the time period.
“The Forbidden Forest was still forbidden and home to centaurs not likely keen on human interaction. Goblins were around, but this lot certainly didn’t work at Gringotts.”
More changes will likely appear once the game releases in 2021. We already know from the FAQ that Hogwarts Legacy will expand beyond the scope of the titular school. The player’s wizard will enter never-before-seen locations and find friends in characters created by Avalanche games.
This is not Rowling’s Hogwarts anymore.
As for characters, everything is player-made. The user gets to create their own custom character, learning spells, honing their combat skills, and choosing their Hogwarts House. The player travels through a Hogwarts influenced by them, not by Rowling.
There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that Rowling is taking a hands-off approach with Portkey Games. She didn’t write the story or make a single choice for the developers. Another question in the FAQ asks if Rowling approves of Hogwarts Legacy and other titles from Portkey Games.
“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,” the answer reads.
Rowling is certainly not the first creator to voice opinions that alienated their fanbase. But the Hippogriff in the room here is whether Rowling stands to make money from royalties or licensing of Hogwarts Legacy. WBIE and Portkey have not confirmed anything — and they likely won't — but it’s fair to assume that Rowling either already has or will profit from game sales.
For some, knowing she’s abdicated creative control of this game will provide enough comfort. But it may be a deal-breaker for others. Both perspectives are perfectly valid in their own right.
The world of Harry Potter might’ve been created by J.K. Rowling, but it’s up to every fan and developer involved to define it to their liking. Hopefully, Hogwarts Legacy can establish itself as the fan’s Hogwarts.
Hogwarts Legacy will be released in 2021.