The Sims 4 publisher Electronic Arts will release its My Wedding Stories content, which prominently features a lesbian couple, in Russia after backlash from Russian Sims players. The new content, centered around love and marriage, will be delayed until Feb. 23, Electronic Arts said, to ensure a “global release” for the DLC.
My Wedding Stories was initially slated for release on Thursday.
Electronic Arts announced last week that it would not sell My Wedding Stories in Russia due to Russian laws that require content it deems “gay propaganda” to be labeled as mature content, available only to people 18 and over. “We have made the decision to forgo the release of ‘My Wedding Stories’ where our storytelling would be subject to changes because of federal laws,” The Sims team said in a blog post last week.
Now, Electronic Arts will release the game pack “unaltered and unchanged” in Russia, citing that it has “reassessed” its options.
A portion of the statement, published on Wednesday, is copied below:
With this in mind, we’ve reassessed our options and realized we can do more than we initially believed and we will now release The Sims 4 “My Wedding Stories” Game Pack to our community in Russia, unaltered and unchanged, featuring Dom and Cam.
We want the entire Sims community to be able to celebrate together, so we’re pushing the global release of “My Wedding Stories” to February 23 — including in Russia.
Love is love, and The Sims community will continue to be a safe space for those who want to see a world where that is true for everyone. We are thankful for the support of our team and our values even when it is hard. Thank you for being a part of The Sims.
An Electronic Arts spokesperson declined to comment further.
In its Wednesday announcement, the Sims team referenced the backlash it faced from the Russian Sims community and some prominent Sims influencers. Russian The Sims 4 players argued that keeping the content out of Russia limited representation for LGBTQ+ players there, while other suggested Electronic Arts misinterpreted the law. Though Electronic Arts did not implicitly state which Russian federal law it assumed the pack would violate, many pointed to Russia’s “anti-gay law” or “gay propaganda law,” which is designed to prohibit companies and organization from distributing content depicting LGBTQ+ relationships. Russia says the law protects “traditional family values.”
The Sims 4 is a life-simulation game that gives players the freedom to play as they choose, with few limitations regarding gender and sexuality. The Sims 4 has always allowed for gay weddings, and has previously included LGBTQ+ content in its DLC — including in Russia, where international research and advocacy group Human Rights Watch says Russia’s anti-gay “propaganda” law has “increased hostility” and limited “affirming education and support services” for LGTBQ+ youth. Typically, The Sims 4 is rated T for Teen by the ESRB, meaning it’s acceptable for players age 13 or older. In Russia, The Sims 4 is rated 18+.
“Since then, we’ve been listening to the outpouring of feelings from our community including both support for our decision and concern for their fellow community members,” Electronic Arts said in Wednesday’s blog. “It’s equally important for us to stand by our values, including standing against homophobia, and to share stories like this with those who want and need it most.”
The “gay propaganda” law has impacted video games in the past: Blizzard Entertainment decided not to publish an Overwatch comic featuring a prominently gay character, Tracer, kissing her girlfriend. Blizzard Entertained told Eurogamer in 2017 that it “decided not to publish given the climate in Russia and legal feedback.”