It’s been a few years now since the upcoming Harry Potter RPG in development over at Avalanche Software (not to be confused with Avalanche Studios Group, known for its work on the Just Cause series) was leaked to the public back in 2018. The Disney Infinity developer is reportedly planning to launch this open-world game on the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X late next year, but what the studio was probably not anticipating when it started working on the project was that J.K. Rowling, the author behind the Harry Potter books who has her hands in just about everything that comes out under that particular umbrella, would turn out to be a big ol’ TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), prompting several fans to stop supporting the series financially.
According to a report by Bloomberg, Rowling’s comments on an article that referred to “people who menstruate,” which includes people assigned female at birth, as well as those who have transitioned, that were deemed transphobic and erasing of entire of identities in the process, were damaging to the morale of developers working on the Harry Potter RPG. This was both because the content was detestable, but also large swaths of the series’ fans are now refusing to pay money for anything Harry Potter-related in order to not support Rowling.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Felicia Grady, managing editor of MuggleNet, a popular fan community surrounding Rowling’s books and other merchandise, said that she’s seen a demonstrable downturn in excitement for the game, as well as any Harry Potter projects in general.
“Based on what I’ve seen from fans, I do believe that Rowling’s comments have had some effect on the level of excitement they have for the Harry Potter RPG or other upcoming content,” Grady told Bloomberg. “We’ve seen comments from fans who no longer wish to support Rowling or the brand financially.”
Members of Avalanche told Bloomberg that the studio’s leadership has yet to discuss Rowling’s comments with the team, meaning that most of them are having to discuss the fallout privately. And it’s gotta be scary when you’ve spent this many years working on something that could have been an easy sell only for the creator of the franchise to reveal their true colors a year out from launch. While Rowling is involved in the game’s development, members of Avalanche say she has “very little direct involvement.”
The RPG was initially meant to be revealed at this year’s cancelled E3, but is now on track to be revealed in August at the DC Fandome digital event.
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Whether or not Rowling’s shitty opinions have any effect on the unannounced game’s performance is yet to be seen. But not wanting to put any money in her pockets is valid. While separating the creator from the product is is a very liberating thing, and has been a godsend in times when The Last of Us: Part II voice actor Troy Baker is throwing a tantrum online because someone criticized the video game he acted in, it’s worth keeping in mind that Rowling’s bad thoughts are damaging rhetoric used by transphobic detractors to try and invalidate the lived experience of so many.
So if you’ve successfully removed Rowling from her work and still want to buy the game as a fan of the Harry Potter universe, that’s valid. And if you feel like you can’t support it anymore after Rowling outed herself as a bigot, that’s valid, too. Or if you’re going to support the game because you don’t find Rowling’s opinions that offensive, fuck off into the sun, TERF.