Life simulator The Sims 4 will feature a same-sex couple on its cover for the first time, publisher EA Games has announced.
The newest installment in the franchise was originally released on PC in 2014, but EA has announced a deep refresh with new features, additions, and design changes.
As part of that overhaul, the box art on physical and digital copies of the game will feature a same-sex couple, the first time such a pairing has appeared on the cover of a Sims game.
The series is well-known to LGBTQ gamers for its ability to create queer characters and relationships — a feature that saw the game allegedly pulled from digital stores in seven countries last year.
The new Sims 4 art features a spate of new core characters being introduced to the game, which are prominently featured in the character creator and on the aforementioned cover art.
Among those included are Dela Ostrow and Mia Hayes, a same-sex couple.
The women — whose individual sexualities are unspecified — are creative types, with Dela a fashion designer and Mia a programmer and artist. Here’s their full bios, via Sims Community:
Dela Ostrow: As a kid, Dela lived all over the world, shadowing her mum—a globally sought-after fashion photographer. That experience gave Dela an inherent sense of optimism and a deep entrepreneurial spirit. She recently launched her first fashion line, and her unique pieces and global style is starting to get press. Her girlfriend Mia—a designer in her own right—helps keep her informed of trends outside the fashion industry.
Mia Hayes: With a head for numbers, and a creative eye, Mia splits her time between freelance programmer and artist gigs. Being both a bit of an introvert, and a bit of a rebel, this independence suited her outlook in life. Mia has a unique way of attracting creative, high-energy friends like Noah, and her girlfriend Dela. They love her genuine, almost kid-like enthusiasm. She is the glue that bonds her social circles together.
The update containing Dela and Mia is rolling out to PC users now, with an update for console versions listed as “coming soon.”
GLAAD praised EA and Maxis for the update, saying the companies had crossed “another milestone.”
“The Sims franchise has been an industry leader on LGBTQ representation and this week it crossed another milestone,” GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “We applaud Electronic Arts and Maxis for putting an LGBTQ couple front and center on its new, rebranded box art for The Sims 4.
“LGBTQ players have been a major part of The Sims community from the beginning, and this recognition and visibility is important and well deserved,” Ellis continued. “This is a breakthrough moment for representation in the video game space, and we encourage others to step up and match this kind of visibility in their new releases and updates.”
The introduction of Dela and Mia to the new core group of Sims‘ characters is just the latest in a series of pro-LGBTQ steps by Sims developer Maxis.
Earlier this year, the newest Sims 4 expansion, Island Living, featured the franchise’s first premade gender nonconforming character.
Lia Hauata appears in the game’s character creator with the “masculine” physical frame option and “feminine” clothing option selected.
The character is also able to become pregnant, according to the original settings applied.
The Sims franchise took a big step towards embracing transgender and gender nonbinary people in 2016, when Maxis updated The Sims 4 to allow users to create an avatar with any body type, walk, or voice, regardless of gender.
Maxis worked with GLAAD at the time to ensure the game “more accurately reflects the world in which we live today.”
In a post on the Sims website, Maxis said the game “is made by a diverse team for a diverse audience, and it’s really important to us that players are able to be creative and express themselves through our games.”