The Hogwarts Legacy Controversy, Explained
(Warning: This article contains mentions of transphobia and anti-semitism.)
In February, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment will publish Hogwarts Legacy, a single-person, open-world action RPG set in the world of Harry Potter. The game was announced in September 2020 and has been mired in controversy ever since.
For one thing, the timing was off. Warner Bros. announced Hogwarts Legacy shortly after Potter creator J.K. Rowling made openly transphobic comments and then doubled down on them. In the two years since, she’s become increasingly vocal about her hatred for trans people (in particular, trans women), and millions of Potter fans have called for a total boycott of any official products that could put more money in her pocket.
Will J.K. Rowling Profit from Hogwarts Legacy?
Since she owns the IP, that means she gets royalties from everything with the official Potter label—including Hogwarts Legacy. The game doesn’t follow a story written by her, but the website clarifies that Portkey Games did work closely with her team in developing the game, since it’s set entirely in the world she created. That translates to royalties for Rowling, and since the game will be released in both a Standard and Deluxe Edition for $59.99 and $69.99 respectively, that could be a hefty chunk of change.
Rowling’s hatred of trans people should be reason enough to not buy Hogwarts Legacy. Unfortunately, that’s not the only problem at hand.
What is the controversy surrounding Hogwarts Legacy?
In addition to supporting Rowling, whose anti-trans comments have alienated a vast portion of her once-devoted fanbase, Hogwarts Legacy has also been accused of perpetuating antisemitic tropes in its depiction of goblins—an issue baked into the books, as well.
The game takes place in the 1800s, so one of the challenges players will face is a so-called “Goblin Rebellion,” of which there are several mentioned throughout the Harry Potter series. In Hogwarts Legacy, goblins are rebelling against wizards for not being allowed to carry wands and are depicted as the antagonists in that struggle, with the rebellion leader even tenuously teaming up with a dark wizard to achieve his goals.
Framing an oppressed species as evil for wanting to freely use their own magic and not be oppressed anymore is honestly gross. Considering the goblins are depicted as hook-nosed, greedy bankers—a staple of anti-Jewish propaganda since the Middle Ages—this plot feels even worse.
No matter how beautiful the graphics or how smooth the gameplay, purchasing Hogwarts Legacy directly supports a studio who continues to perpetuate these caricatures of Jewish people in a time of rising antisemitism, as well as an already-wealthy woman whose hatred of trans women even extends to banning them from a sexual violence help center.
So, the short answer to whether you should ignore the Hogwarts Legacy controversy and buy the game anyway is: No.
(featured image: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment)
Want more stories like this? Become a subscriber and support the site!
—The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]