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Why is Hogwarts Legacy being boycotted?

Since the release of the first Harry Potter book in the mid-1990s, a whole generation of fans has been waiting for their letter to finally join the prestigious Hogwarts School. Millions of fans have immersed themselves in this unique and familiar universe, eagerly awaiting the day when the video game would finally match the cinematic world of this unmissable license. Now it's done with the release of Hogwarts Legacy, an ambitious project from Warner Games and Avalanche Software, which has been under the spotlight since its announcement two years ago.

Expected to be one of the most important games of the last three years, Hogwarts Legacy is off to a rocky start. The game is the source of intense debate on social networks, dividing players into two clear categories. Some are calling for a complete boycott of the game, while others are making its purchase the standard-bearer of anti-woke culture. Two excessively loud clans in permanent confrontation on Twitter and Reddit. But why and how can an open world RPG be so divisive?

To understand this situation, you have to know that the numerous calls for a boycott of the Warner Bros Games' RPG have their origin in the growing unpopularity of J.K. Rowling, the billionaire author behind the famous Harry Potter books. The latter has indeed adopted polemical positions on transgender people through dubious tweets in recent years. She has attracted the wrath of various LGBTQIA+ communities pointing out her remarks as transphobic, and the applause of various anti-woke groups and personalities (including none other than Vladimir Putin) who have made her, often against her will, an icon against the "cancel-culture". J.K. Rowling's various nauseating outbursts on Twitter have also prompted a majority of the actors in the Harry Potter films (including Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) to express their support for the LGBTQIA+ communities and to disassociate themselves from the British author.

And in the collateral damage of this fierce fight is Hogwarts Legacy, unfortunately for Warner Bros. Games and Avalanche Software. This upcoming release is considered too conniving with J.K. Rowling by some of the author's detractors, who associate its purchase with an open support to transphobic and homophobic ideas and massively call for its boycott. An indignation that has pushed Warner Bros. Games to detach itself from Rowling and to affirm:

"J.K. Rowling is not directly involved in the creation of the game, although her extraordinary body of writing forms the foundation of all Wizarding World projects. We're even adding that it will be possible in Hogwarts Legacy to use inclusive options, allowing the creation of trans characters. We're going to stay focused on the game we've built and the great work of Avalanche Studio. We want everyone who loves the Harry Potter universe to be able to love these stories and characters."

Hogwarts Legacy

Many calls to boycott Hogwarts Legacy

A position that has not managed to ease the tensions that still tear Twitter and Reddit, since many voices still call on players not to buy Hogwarts Legacy. They also point to another thorny issue: the links between the goblins of the wizarding world, the main antagonists of the game, and the anti-Semitic cartoons. While J.K. Rowling's position on this second uncomfortable issue is still unknown, her open transphobia and suspicion of anti-Semitism are for many reasons enough to call for a boycott of Hogwarts Legacy, despite the inclusion of transgender options in the game's character creation system.

This is what prompted the popular video game discussion forum ResetEra to ban all conversation about the game. The site said it did not want to contribute to the fact that J.K Rowling "uses her money and influence to promote transphobic ideas and legislation." A small slap in the face for Hogwarts Legacy, which is deprived of one of the largest discussion forums on the net, and further evidence of the harmful influence of the words of the British author, which have also redoubled in virulence in the run-up to the release of the game.

For many gamers, however, it's unwarranted to link the pathetic Twitter rants of a billionaire author, especially on issues that are way beyond her purview, to the work of a studio dedicated to providing an immersive experience to millions of fans. It is also out of the question to see the purchase of the game as the adoption of a political or social stance, whether transphobic or anti-cancel culture.

In the end, for the silent majority, this is all about video games and the love of a magical franchise. But beware, just like cinema, video games are a relevant means of political and social expression. It should just be noted that this is an aspect that Hogwarts Legacy, in its purpose, seems to be fundamentally devoid of. Finally, it should be added that it is true that, in one way or another, the financial success of Hogwarts Legacy benefits and will benefit J.K. Rowling. And it is perfectly legitimate to not want to endorse the enrichment of this infrequent billionaire.

In short, in a perfect world, everyone does as they please without looking at what their neighbor is doing. Hogwarts Legacy is, after all, a single player game.

Hogwarts Legacy

Hogwarts Legacy on Steam

While it has been topping the sales charts on the PC gaming platform Steam for several weeks, Hogwarts Legacy is still at the heart of an intense controversy. Following calls for a boycott due to J.K. Rowling's more than questionable stance on transgender issues, many PC users of the platform have attacked Hogwarts Legacy by trying to submit it to a "review-bombing" even before its release. As a reminder, "review-bombing" is a practice consisting in a massive influx of negative reviews on a game's page aiming at discouraging potential undecided buyers. Except that this exercise is only possible when the Steam rating system is open to the public, that is, after the release of a game.

That's why Hogwarts Legacy's detractors have used a different method in the last few days, employing the principle of "tags", those little adjectives that allow Steam to list games according to their content, from the simple "FPS" "Multiplayer" "Open-world", to the more complex "Gore", "Horror" or even "Genocide simulator". And as you can see, Hogwarts Legacy's detractors, firmly determined to prevent its success, have been hard at work applying extremely unappetizing "tags" to Warner Bros Games' upcoming release. "World War II", "NSFW", "Genocide Simulator", the attempts at negative labeling have been numerous, pushing Steam to do a big clean up among these user suggestions, and to list Hogwarts Legacy under the right criteria.

And you, what is your opinion on the game? Do you play it? Are you boycotting it? We want to know everything!



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