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Hogwarts Legacy Review: A New Billion-Dollar Franchise?

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Magical Surprise. Hi everyone. Today, I’m covering the new Harry Potter game Hogwarts Legacy, which was released last Friday. It has been delighting gamers everywhere and could become a bigger-than-expected boon for its publisher and parent company
Warner Bros. Discovery
(ticker: WBD).

Before its launch, I didn’t have much confidence in Hogwarts Legacy. Making a large-budget AAA open-world game isn’t easy. For every megahit like Grand Theft Auto, there are dozens of failures.

It looked like the odds were stacked against Avalanche Software, the developer of Hogwarts Legacy. Harry Potter games have had a long history of mixed titles that have never reached critical acclaim. Avalanche lacked experience for making this kind of ambitious project and was primarily known for smaller titles. The game was delayed multiple times, and its prospects looked dim.

But the developers pulled it off. After playing Hogwarts Legacy for many hours, I can say it’s easily going to be one of the best-selling games in years, and there will be plenty of demand for several inevitable sequels.

Hogwarts Legacy is set before the original Harry Potter stories and isn’t rooted in the books or movies. The game is a single-player role-playing action game where players assume the role of a fifth-year student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

It launched on
‘s (SONY) PlayStation 5,
‘s (MSFT)Xbox Series X/S, and PC last week. The game will also be released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch later this year.

What makes the game unique is the immersive environments and atmosphere. The developers created a virtual world straight out of the Harry Potter universe that looks like a real place. I spent hours walking around the main castle, admiring the intricate tapestries, paintings on the walls, and stained glass windows while listening to the beautiful classical music soundtrack in the background. Each room has an amazing amount of detail, from the piles of books in the corner to cauldrons for making potions.

And playing the game is a joy. There is a distinct feeling of adventure and exploration straight out of the Indiana Jones movies, figuring out puzzles and battling beautifully animated monsters and creatures. Perhaps most important is the game mechanics are a good mix of simple to learn and difficult to master. Stringing together different spell combinations gives players a visceral feeling of power, flinging enemies around with the wave of a wand. It does not get old.

I’m not alone in my enthusiasm. Across internet message boards, the game’s reception has been overwhelmingly positive. Common refrains are: Hogwarts Legacy is “way better than I expected“ and “the best videogame I’ve ever played.” I expect word-of-mouth enthusiasm to keep building as more people play and get further along in the game.

Wedbush videogame analyst Michael Pachter, who doesn’t cover
Warner Bros. Discovery,
says he estimates Hogwarts Legacy could sell eight million copies because “the reviews are good and the game is off to a fast start.”

The potential for the game’s sales may be far higher. Investors sometimes use Twitch viewership as an indicator for a game’s engagement and its likelihood of success. And Hogwarts Legacy has already set a record for a single-player game on Twitch with 1.28 million concurrent viewers. On Monday, reported that Hogwarts Legacy had the biggest launch week ever for a Harry Potter game, selling 64% more units than the previous best-selling title from 2001, citing physical game sales data from GfK, which tracks the United Kingdom videogame market. (Sales trends in the U.K. are historically similar to the rest of the world.)

The report also said the game sold 80% more units in its first week than last year’s blockbuster fantasy game Elden Ring, which sold more than 17 million copies worldwide. If Hogwarts Legacy outsells Elden Ring this year, a feat I believe is possible, it could bring in nearly a billion dollars in sales for its publisher Warner Bros. Games.

Hogwarts Legacy is further evidence Warner Bros. Discovery knows how to cultivate creative talent. It comes weeks after the launch of the record-breaking The Last of Us television series from the conglomerate’s HBO division. The show has already been renewed for a second season.

Creating entertainment franchises are the lifeblood of both the gaming industry and Hollywood. Developing a fan base for a new series enables companies to drive consistent revenue and profits for years. It’s easier to generate excitement and demand for sequels, with success building on itself with each new release. Those franchises are the holy grail for any entertainment executive, and Warner Bros. Discovery has established two of them in the past month.

While the Hogwarts Legacy financial performance may not move the needle much for parent-company Warner Bros. Discovery this year, with the Wall Street consensus at $44 billion in revenue, the game’s achievement shouldn’t be underestimated.

Hogwarts Legacy success will spawn several more sequels, likely blockbusters, driving billions of dollars in future revenue.

I, for one, can’t wait to play them too.

This Week in Barron’s Tech Coverage

Write to Tae Kim at or follow him on Twitter at @firstadopter


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