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Hogwarts Legacy dev resigns after YouTube channel backlash

UPDATE: Developer explains decision.

UPDATE 15/3/21: Former WB Games developer Troy Leavitt has now, as promised, released his own video discussing his departure from Hogwarts Legacy studio Avalanche Software. It's an edited recording of a farewell Zoom call to former colleagues, in which he also shared his resignation letter.

In the letter, Leavitt wrote that he left the studio largely due to a family matter which WB Games had been helping him manage over the past year. "Unfortunately, things on that front have seriously deteriorated since the beginning of February," Leavitt said, "I now see the situation as chronic and likely to be high maintenance into the foreseeable future."

Discussing the timeline of events leading up to his resignation, Leavitt explained that articles about his YouTube channel were published after "family matters took a sharp turn at [the] beginning of February" and that after "reflecting upon the situation, I decided to prioritise family over work concerns... The articles were a catalyst in this - but not the cause. I decided to re-retire at [the] beginning of March."

Finally, Leavitt said he had left "with only the warmest feelings" for Avalanche, WB Games and the Hogwarts Legacy project, and for his fellow developers at the studio whose work he praised.

Elsewhere in the lengthy video, Leavitt further discusses the content of his past videos and how these were reported, briefly mentions how he would attempt to debate JK Rowling, and plugs his own self-published fantasy novel series which he will work further on in his new retirement.

ORIGINAL STORY 5/3/21:Hogwarts Legacy developer Troy Leavitt has resigned from Avalanche Software after discussion of his old YouTube channel blew up online last month.

Writing on Twitter today, Leavitt said he had decided to part ways with the developer and would explain more in an upcoming video he would post to the channel in question.

"I have nothing but good things to say about the game, the dev team, and WB Games," Leavitt wrote. "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."

Cover image for YouTube videoHogwarts Legacy – Official 4K Reveal Trailer

Leavitt's YouTube channel, which currently has 25.6k subscribers, hosts videos largely made between his work on the Harry Potter prequel game and his previous project - the cancelled toys-to-life franchise Disney Infinity.

Topics covered by Leavitt include right-wing criticism of Anita Sarkeesian's Feminist Frequency videos and "social justice", the firing of former Pixar boss John Lasseter for allegations of sexual harassment, the fact Nolan Bushnell did not receive a recent award due to the development culture at Atari in the 1970s, the suggestions of journalistic bias which founded the GamerGate online hate campaign, net neutrality and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

Liam Robertson, who makes videos for Did You Know Gaming, highlighted the channel via Twitter last month and described Leavitt as a "far right YouTuber who used to make anti-fem and pro-GG [GamerGate] vids".

"I'm not trying to 'cancel' anyone," Robertson wrote at the time. "I just wanted to let people know this because I feel like it's something people might like to know before deciding whether to support this project. This is all public info and there for anyone to find."

Indeed, Leavitt said he had made Warner Bros. aware of his YouTube channel upon joining the project, and that it "didn't appear to be an issue" at the time.

In response to the channel, and the ongoing backlash against Harry Potter creator JK Rowling's views on transgender issues, video game forum ResetEra elected to ban all discussion promoting Hogwarts Legacy until the game's recently-delayed release in 2022.

Earlier this week, Bloomberg reported on plans for Hogwarts Legacy to feature a "trans-inclusive" character creator which would let you pick unlinked body and voice options for your character. Whether you pick the label of "witch" or "wizard" will determine which school dormitory you are assigned. The addition of this, as well as plans for a trans character in the game, were described as part of a push from within the Hogwarts Legacy development team to make the game more progressive.

Today, Warner Bros. confirmed Leavitt's decision to leave Avalanche Software to Kotaku. There's no word yet on when Leavitt's video on the matter will be published.