Sims 4 Game Pack Featuring Gay Characters Will Be Released in Russia Amid Chaos

EA first said it would not publish My Wedding Stories in Russia due to federal laws against “gay propaganda,” then abruptly reversed course, confusing gamers worldwide.
Sims celebrate a wedding
Image via EA

EA’s decision to not release My Wedding Stories—its new love and marriage-related expansion pack for The Sims 4—in Russia led to intense backlash from segments of the fandom. EA now says that it will release the expansion in Russia, “unaltered and unchanged,” pushing the game’s release date back to February 23 for all players.

Last week, the development team behind The Sims 4 said they would not release the pack in Russia, citing “federal laws.” Famously, Russia has a law against “gay propaganda,” defined as materials “[aimed] at causing minors to form non-traditional sexual predispositions, notions of attractiveness of non-traditional sexual relationships, distorted ideas about the equal social value of traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships, or imposing information about non-traditional sexual relationships which raises interest in such relationships insofar as these acts do not amount to a criminal offence,” according to a translation from human rights group Article 19. The Sims 4, which allows for same-sex romance, is already marked as 18+ in Russia.

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“[W]e believed that our team could not freely share the storytelling of same-sex couple Cam and Dom in Russia and decided the best way to uphold our commitment to sharing their story was to not release this pack there,” the Sims development team wrote in a letter to the community. “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.” 

The development team said that it is pushing back the global release date to next week in order to have it be consistent for all players.

My Wedding Stories, which gives more depth to the gameplay surrounding love and marriage, features a lesbian couple on the cover art. This couple is also the focal point of the game’s marketing campaign. They live in the new town in My Wedding Stories as elders who want to renew their vows.

Members of The Sims’s community have said that this decision from EA is exclusionary to Russians. Over the weekend, the hashtag “#weddingsforrussia” was created and gained steam within the community. A subsequent promotional livestream for the game was also conducted without a live chat, further angering players looking for answers. This led to major Western Sims influencers announcing that they would not make pre-release content for My Wedding Stories.

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Why the community rallied around protesting this decision is a bit confusing. Some have said that not releasing the pack in Russia is discriminatory towards LGBT people in Russia who need representation; others, though, have said that the Russian law regarding “gay propaganda” is not as severe as EA has stated, and that not releasing the pack was evidence of anti-Russian bias.

Waypoint reached out to the United States State Department for clarity on how American companies navigate discriminatory laws from foreign governments; it was not able to provide much.

“Looking at the announcement, it appears that the manufacturer had very clear reasons for their decision,” a representative from the State Department told Waypoint over email.

Waypoint reached out to EA for more details on this decision and they declined to comment.

Life for LGBT people in Russia is not easy, and sometimes very dangerous. Human Rights Watch has called Russia’s laws regarding “gay propaganda” as especially harmful to queer youth in Russia. American companies, including EA, have historically had issues with laws regarding “gay propaganda” when it comes to LGBT-related content in their games.