Possibly Warner Bros. Games’ worst kept secret as of late, the upcoming ‘Hogwarts Legacy‘ video game has had many a muggle bewitched by the possibility that a role-playing game based on the beloved Harry Potter franchise is being manifested into reality.
Even though the game was shrouded under an invisibility cloak, ever since Reddit user “VapeThisBro” uploaded leaked trailer footage back in October of 2018, the buzz surrounding this title within both Potter and gaming bubble’s has been steadily boiling over. Since then, speculations, theories, desired concepts, and general news about the upcoming release sprouted from online forums to keep magical folk satiated in the meantime – the most predominant sect being on Reddit’s “r/HarryPotterGame” (soon to be “r/HogwartsLegacy”).
To those uninitiated to the Wizarding World’s tie’s to video games, this is far from being the first Harry Potter video-game; as there have been two whole series of games based on the theatrical adaptations that release concurrently with each film.
Harry’s adventures have been rebuilt in Lego form. He has had his own sports game based on the fictional flying pastime of Quidditch, a host of motion-controlled Kinect and PS3 Move games, and a handful of mobile games. Most notably, the AR Niantic project ‘Wizards Unite‘; a hybrid of Pokémon Go mechanics meets Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
But what promising witches and wizards (myself included) want from a Harry Potter experience is to attend Hogwarts ourselves – we’ve had enough of Harry! It seems to be an obvious demand for those wanting to attend the school of witchcraft and wizardry, as is evident from the dedicated Platform 9¾ brick and mortar shop in Kings Cross Station, the Harry Potter Studios Tour in London, and the ‘Wizarding World of Harry Potter‘ Experience in Orlando! Florida… the most magical & British place on Earth!
There’s certainly a market for a Hogwarts RPG. The success of ‘Pottermore’ – an official hub of all things Potter-based, has personality tests that determine your House alignment, your personalised wand, and “Patronus” (essentially your protective spirit animal), and many unofficial virtual role-playing HP themed games are abundant online. And after the luke-warm reception to other post-Potter related properties of the last decade, the franchise has hit a bit of a slump; and fans of the series are hoping that Hogwarts Legacy could be the elixir to revive the magic of the Wizarding World.
Developer studio Avalanche Software is set to helm the Hogwarts RPG, though this won’t be the first media franchise Avalanche has worked on before. Namely handling Pixar and Disney properties such as ‘Toy Story 3’, ‘Cars 2’, and the “Toys-to-Life” project ‘Disney Infinity’ series.
This will be a pivotal change for the developers; having previously produced games catering to a younger audience for the past decade, and outwardly expressing this upcoming venture will be a AAA development title – a first in this company’s history. The scale of the production and choice of intellectual property is solely due to Avalanche being acquired by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment from Disney in 2017 (the last game developed being ‘Cars 3: Drive to Win’ in the same year of acquisition).
It only makes sense (in WB Games’ eyes) that they would give the “portkeys” of a beloved children’s franchise to an adept studio who built its modern enterprise on adapting similar works from the screen to the interactive medium. Albeit, the target demographic that were once kids and young teenagers (those of which who grew up with the books and films during their height of relevancy) are themselves now adults. So it would not only be a huge developmental jump for Avalanche, but quite the tonal shift (if the latest trailer is anything to go by!)
To add more precarious potions into the cauldron, Avalanche have the unenviable task of appeasing a disappointed but dedicated Potter fanbase; due to the latest tangle of controversies that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling keeps weaving herself into – namely her stance on transgender rights and her trans-exclusionary radical feminist ideology.
Avalanche Software have yet to release a statement of their own regarding Rowling’s views. Warner Bros. Games have said in an FAQ that:
“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.
This is not a new story from J.K. Rowling.”
Though she may not have been involved with the video-game, she is most definitely receiving royalties from the production.
In an article for Bloomberg, Rowling’s effect within the workplace at Avalanche has left their employees anxious and uncomfortable moving forward with the project, leaving both the developer and fans alike in a moral predicament. A boycott of all Potter-media that directly benefits J.K. Rowling has been in action for many “Potter-heads” and trans-allies since then. Ultimately stranding those who are against supporting her but attached to the wizarding world in an “Immobulus*” charm of sorts.
(*a spell in the Harry Potter books that freezes/immobilises the movement of living or animated targets)
Earlier this year, Avalanche Software were amidst concerns that their parent company WB Games would potentially be put up for sale, which could have jeopardized production had such a deal gone through. AT&T (current owners of WarnerMedia) have since then walked back on their intentions to do so for the time being, but I don’t have to have a natural talent in divination to know that doesn’t bode well for the future.
Judging by how the gaming industry operates currently, it’s a miracle that any video game even gets released. Which makes it all the more impressive how Hogwarts Legacy is nearing the end of completion despite all the setbacks. There is still a lot of pressure for Avalanche to meet fan expectations, but the general consensus is predominantly optimistic; Many fans are feverishly awaiting their letter of acceptance into Hogwarts as anticipation grows. I’m sure we can expect many more owls with more information sometime nearer to the 2021 release date.