Hogwarts Legacy developer Troy Leavitt leaves after reactionary video controversy

Hogwarts Legacy developer Troy Leavitt has left the project following criticism of videos that defended the reactionary Gamergate harassment movement and dismissed sexual misconduct complaints against media executives. Leavitt tweeted the news last night, saying he had resigned from studio Avalanche Software despite feeling “absolutely secure in my position.”

Leavitt was the lead designer on Hogwarts Legacy, an open-world roleplaying game set in the Harry Potter universe. Last month, Did You Know Gaming? contributor Liam Robertson highlighted a YouTube channel where Leavitt posted videos between 2016 and 2018. The videos attacked social justice activism and defended figures like Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell and Pixar co-founder John Lasseter, both of whom have been accused of sexual harassment. In the Bushnell video, Leavitt indicated that Avalanche and its parent company Warner Bros. were aware of his YouTube channel.

Leavitt said on Twitter that he had “made the decision to part ways with Avalanche Software” and would be releasing a video about the decision soon. “To clarify: I felt absolutely secure in my position. However, I still wanted to resign for reasons that I will explain in that forthcoming video. I’m in excellent spirits and very pleased with my relationship with WB and Avalanche.” A representative for WB didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

Leavitt’s connection to Avalanche escalated an existing controversy over the game. Hogwarts Legacy was announced soon after Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling published comments calling “trans activism” a threat to women, as well as a novel whose villain reflected anti-transgender tropes. The comments led WB to clarify that Rowling was not involved in the production of the game, although she would likely make money from it. Later rumors suggested that Hogwarts Legacy would specifically allow transgender characters in a push for inclusivity.

The resurfaced Leavitt videos pushed popular forum ResetEra to ban threads about Hogwarts Legacy. “This is a uniquely awful situation where both the creator of the IP and a senior producer on the game have unrepentant bigoted views,” wrote an administrator. “There will be no threads for trailers or official announcements, no hype threads, no fluff pieces about its features.”

It’s unclear what, if anything, Leavitt’s departure means for Hogwarts Legacy’s overall development. The game was initially set for release this year, but it was later pushed to 2022.

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