Electronic Arts has reversed its decision to not release the next Sims 4 expansion in Russia. The expansion, titled My Wedding Stories, was originally not destined to debut in the region due to "anti-gay propaganda" laws passed in 2013. Now it will be releasing in the region (and the rest of the world) next week.
The Sims 4 has been available in Russia for some time now, and the series has featured same-sex romance choices for several iterations. It appears to have eluded crackdown up to this point by releasing with an 18+ rating in the region.
In a statement, EA explained that after community outcry over the decision, it was able to "reassess [its] options," and determined it could publish the expansion in Russia "unaltered and unchanged," and still featuring central characters Dom and Cam.
"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 statement concluded. "We are thankful for the support of our team and our values even when it is hard."
There are upsides and downsides to EA's decision here. On the one hand, Russian players in favor of same-sex couples can now live out their Sims wedding fantasies with the rest of the world. On the other hand, community members seem to have had conflicting motivations for the pushback.
Vice writer Gita Jackson noted the different reasons gave for players protesting the decision. Some players seemed genuinely interested in advocating for LGBTQ players from the Russian community. Others dismissed the severity of the anti-LGBTQ messaging law and called EA's actions "anti-Russian propaganda."
The latter sentiment arrives at a time where tensions are running high internationally over Russia's military buildup on the border of Ukraine.
While it is good that EA will be able to publish LGTBQ-friendly game content (and presumably marketing) in Russia after all, it's head-scratching as to what events led to this in the first place. Who told the Sims team that the expansion wouldn't be welcome there? Nervous EA executives? Business associates from the region? And what stakeholders pushed to reverse that decision in the last week?
The vagaries of this series of events are only matched by the language of Russia's legislation. NBC News noted in a 2019 news story that enforcement of the law seems inconsistent...but still effective at driving institutions in the country to not welcome LGBTQ content.