One of the most anticipated video games is one whose existence has yet to be acknowledged. It's a big-budget Harry Potter game that will let players role-play as wizards and roam a vast, open-world re-creation of Hogwarts and its surrounding areas.

The long-rumored project is very real, according to two people currently working on it. The game is in development at a Warner Bros.-owned studio, Avalanche Software in Salt Lake City, and is scheduled for release late next year for platforms including the upcoming Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X, said the people, who requested anonymity over fears they would be fired for speaking publicly about an unannounced game.

Harry Potter is among the highest-profile projects within Warner Bros. Interactive, along with a Batman game that is in the works. Footage from a very early version of the untitled game began circulating in 2018. That video was authentic, but most of the rumors that have come out since are not, said one of the people working on it. Despite a series of challenges — a global pandemic, a fierce backlash against the franchise's creator, a possible sale of the Warner Bros. video game publishing business — the game remains on track for next year, the person said.

Within the team, though, some anxiety surrounds the work. The studio's management has not addressed recent comments from "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling that were widely viewed as transphobic, the people said. The situation made some members of the team uncomfortable and sparked private discussions among staff over the pandemic water cooler, the workplace communication app Slack.

Spokesmen for Warner Bros. Interactive and Rowling declined to comment.

Rowling, 54, is a near-inextricable part of the wizardry franchise she conjured more than two decades ago. She continues to play a role in most projects associated with the Harry Potter brand, and the game is no exception. However, one of the people working on the game stressed that Rowling has very little direct involvement.