Scheduled for release in early 2023, Hogwarts Legacy is an upcoming role-playing video game based on the Harry Potter franchise. Reception of the game has split completely, as members of the fandom tend to either anticipate it greatly or despise it.
In the game, goblins are the opposition of the protagonist and aim to revolt against the wizarding world. The choice of goblins as the main antagonists in the game has been controversial since a Dec. 2021 episode of “The Problem with Jon Stewart” brought it to light. This prompted large numbers of people to see and connect the design of goblins in the Harry Potter universe to classic anti-Semitic tropes, such as having long, protruding noses and being heavily involved with the bank.
“It was one of those things where I saw it on the screen and I was expecting the crowd to be like, ‘Holy s***, [J. K. Rowling] did not, in a wizarding world, just throw Jews in there to run the f***ing underground bank,’” Stewart said.
Another leading controversy of the game is its involvement with actor Sebastian Croft. Croft was pivotal to the plotline of 2022’s Heartstopper, which has contradicted many of Rowling’s political and personal beliefs, especially those concerning LGBTQ+ identities.
Many social media users, especially those on Twitter, have commented on actors who take part in the project. Despite Rowling having no concrete part in the development of Hogwarts Legacy, many have presumed it to be bigoted nonetheless because it bears her franchise’s name.
“sebastian croft [sic] being in the new harry potter game is weird and transphobic and if you’re supporting or defending him you are prioritizing a cis white actor over real trans people who will be harmed,” Twitter user @charliesb1tch posted.
On Jan. 14, Croft responded to the complaints through a series of posts on Twitter. Though, many still believe that his actions spoke louder than his words.
“I was cast in this project over 3 years ago […] This was long before I was aware of JK Rowling’s views. I believe whole heartedly that trans women are women and trans men are men. I know far more now than I did 3 years ago, and hope to learn far more in the next 3. I’m really sorry to anyone hurt by this announcement. There is no LGB without the T,” Croft posted.
Influential figures within the LGBTQ+ community have also spoken out against Rowling’s beliefs and prompted the public to boycott the game. On Dec. 17, Rowling engaged in a feud with transgender YouTuber Jessie Earl, in which Rowling disregarded Earl’s messages as “purethink” and followed up her own words with the #DoBetter hashtag. “Purethink” is a term coined by Rowling that has not yet been officially defined.
“I own the first 9 movies [of Harry Potter] and all 7 books myself. But any support of something like Hogwarts Legacy is harmful,” Earl posted.
Even though it has been under fire for over two years, Hogwarts Legacy has made over ten lists of the most anticipated games of 2023. The public is excited to return to the wizarding world, whether positively or negatively.