'The Sims 4' will let players change their characters' sexual orientation

Non-binary identities and a wider range of attractions may be on the horizon too.


EA will release the 12th expansion pack for The Sims 4 on July 28th. Starting on the same day, all players (including those who don't buy the High School Years DLC) will be able to change their Sims' sexual orientation, as part of the developers' efforts to bolster LGBTQIA+ representation in the game.

"Between this update and the recent pronouns update, we’re taking several strides forward into being a game that respects and celebrates the nuance and color of everyday life," a Sims 4 lead designer known as SimGuruJessica wrote in the announcement. Developer Maxis worked with GLAAD and the It Gets Better Project "to ensure that we’ve captured the widest possible range of viewpoints on how to approach this feature in a manner that respects and elevates the community."

There are several attraction settings for each Sim, which you can adjust via the ellipsis menu under the gender selection option on the Create A Sim screen. You can determine whether your Sim is attracted to men or women (or neither), if your Sim's orientation can change during gameplay and which genders they can "WooHoo" (i.e. have sex) with. Players can alter these settings at any time.

You can have an asexual Sim who's romantically interested in other Sims and an aromantic Sim who is happy to WooHoo other characters but won't enter into a relationship with them. Casual sex is a new feature in The Sims 4, since WooHoo has always been locked behind the romance mechanic. Young adult and older Sims will be able to ask close friends to hop in the sack as WooHoo partners. A rejected invitation could lead to an awkward interaction, though.

"I want to again acknowledge that these topics are complex and full of nuance," SimGuruJessica wrote. "We consider this a version 1.0, and are absolutely looking forward to seeing what further tools we might add to allow players to tell a broader range of stories."

While players can change their Sims' pronouns, the romance and WooHoo options are gender binary for now due to how the game was created. "Mechanically, non-binary Sims don’t yet exist in [The Sims 4]," SimGuruJessica noted. "While we made great progress in representing non-binary Sims with the pronouns update, we acknowledge that pronouns are not the same thing as gender identities. We recognize that we still have a ways to go in this regard." Adding the systems needed to properly support non-binary Sims will take a little more time, but Maxis is working on it.

Same-sex relationships have been present in the series since the very first game (an E3 demo in 1999 famously depicted two women kissing). Still, these new settings will enable players to have more control over the stories they want to tell. Maxis has been working to improve representation in The Sims 4 on other fronts. In 2020, the team added more than 100 skin tones and sliders to customize them.