Last week, the team behind The Sims 4 “My Wedding Stories” expansion pack—which includes a heavy focus on same-sex marriages—said that the expansion wouldn’t be released in Russia where “our storytelling would be subject to changes because of federal laws.” Now, video game company EA has reversed that decision, saying the expansion will in fact be released in Russia “unaltered and unchanged” alongside the rest of the world.
In an update posted Wednesday afternoon on the Electronic Arts website, The Sims team writes that it previously believed that “our team could not freely share the storytelling of same-sex couple Cam and Dom in Russia.” That’s an apparent oblique reference to Russia’s Article 6.13.1 law, which prohibits “propaganda or homosexualism among minors.” Given that law, the team had decided that “the best way to uphold our commitment to sharing their story was to not release this pack [in Russia].”
Now, the team behind the game says it has “reassessed our options and realized we can do more than we initially believed…” The “My Wedding Stories” pack will now launch in Russia and the rest of the world on February 23, a delay of a few days from its original planned launch date of February 17.
In its latest message, The Sims team makes reference to “the outpouring of feelings from our community including both support for our decision and concern for their fellow community members.” That’s in part an apparent reference to the #WeddingsForRussia campaignwhich in recent days has flooded social media with messages urging Electronic Arts to reverse its decision and release the pack in Russia after all.
The main thrust of that campaign is summed up in this long Twitter thread by SimplyHao. SimplyHao argued that Russia’s laws wouldn’t actually affect the game as long as it was labeled with an “18+” age rating and marketed to adults, which is how The Sims 4 has been marketed in Russia in the past. “All the recent cases of censorship and cuts were about self-censorship in fear of backlash,” SimplyHao writes, “not about some demand of the Russian government. And this is what EA does—just self-censors itself.”
A number of petitions made similar points, arguing that “cancellation of the game can only worsen the situation with the rights of same-sex couples in Russia. By canceling The Wedding Stories Pack you accepted their homophobic rules of the game.”
“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,” the EA team writes in today’s update. “We are thankful for the support of our team and our values even when it is hard . Thank you for being apart of The Sims.”