Seven countries have banned mobile game The Sims: Freeplay, allegedly due to the game’s allowance of LGBTQ relationships and character choices.
A representative for EA said in the company’s online forum that The Sims: Freeplay, which first released in 2011, would no longer be available in China, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Egypt due to “regional standards.”
“We’ve always been proud that our in-game experiences embrace values as broad and diverse as our incredible Sims community,” the representative wrote. “This has been important to us, as we know it is to you.”
EA did not confirm what standards the game was violating, prompting many fans to speculate whether the game was banned due to its LGBTQ content, including allowing players to form same-sex relationships and families with other characters.
Duan Juncheng, a Beijing-based video game expert, told Global Times: “Considering that the other six countries named in the statement are countries where a great majority of people regard gays and lesbians as criminals, the game’s LGBT content might be the reason behind the removal.”
Users who have already downloaded the game can still play it, but the game will be removed from all online stores and will no longer be updated. It will also dismantle in-game purchases and not allow any microtransactions.
Sims developer Maxis has long supported LGBTQ content, with same-sex relationships featuring in Sims games since the original The Sims in 2000, with further additions bringing same-sex weddings and adoptions.
In 2016, Maxis removed all gender boundaries from The Sims 4, allowing users to create an avatar with any body type, walk, or voice, regardless of gender. Male Sims could also become pregnant and females could stand to use the toilet, among other options. These options were not present in The Sims: Freeplay, however.
The series’ embrace of LGBTQ people earned The Sims 4 an ‘adults only’ rating in Russia, due to a law that mandates children are protected “from information harmful to their health and development.”
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