I was a little confused when I first read that Avalanche was making the Harry Potter RPG Hogwarts Legacy (opens in new tab)—it seemed like a real step sideways for a studio best known for Mad Max and the Just Cause games. It turns out that I really was confused, because it's not that Avalanche at all, so now I'm here to help everyone else get it straight.
The Avalanche Studios (opens in new tab) I think of when I hear the name Avalanche is a Swedish developer that released its first game, Just Cause, in 2006. Subsequent releases include theHunter in 2009, Just Cause 2 in 2010, Mad Max and Just Cause 3 in 2015, Just Cause 4 in 2018, and —in collaboration with id Software—Rage 2 in 2019.
Avalanche Studios is also part of the Avalanche Studios Group (opens in new tab), established in March 2020, which encompasses Avalanche Studios, Expansive Worlds, and Systemic Reaction. Neither of them have anything to do with the Potter stuff either: Systemic Reaction is currently working on the online FPS Second Extinction (opens in new tab), while Expansive Worlds' most recent project was Call of the Wild: The Angler (opens in new tab).
Hogwarts Legacy, on the other hand, is developed by a completely different Avalanche. That would be Avalanche Software (opens in new tab) of Salt Lake City, Utah, which is actually a much older operation: It was founded in 1995 and worked on various console ports including Mortal Kombat 3, NFL Blitz 2000, Prince of Persia 3D, and a pile of others. Its biggest project prior to Hogwarts Legacy was Disney Infinity, the "toys-to-life" game series that did not catch on quite as Disney had hoped.
Avalanche Software has a pretty wild history as these things go. In 2005 it was acquired by Buena Vista Games, a Disney Interactive spinoff company; in 2007 Disney renamed Buena Vista to Disney Interactive Studios, which it then shut down in 2016 following the discontinuation of the Disney Infinity series. That was the end of Avalanche Software until 2017, when Warner Bros acquired and reopened the studio. Ironically, its first game following that resurrection was Cars 3: Driven to Win, a licensed Disney game.
Even though Avalanche Software is technically the more established and experienced developer, Avalanche Studios is the one that has greater prominence in gamer consciousness. And understandably so: Hogwarts Legacy will be Avalanche Software's first non-Disney game since 25 to Life, a third-person shooter that came out in 2006.
So as the saying goes, if you didn't know, now you know. Hogwarts Legacy—developed by Avalanche Software, not Avalanche Studios—is set to come out on January 10.