After developers announced last month that the upcoming game Star Wars: The Old Republic would feature only straight romance options, fans immediately began voicing their disapproval of the decision on the game's extensive message boards and across the internet. Several weeks later, their voices appear to have been heard, as developer Bioware has now said that same-sex romance options would be added post-launch through the release of add-on content.
The official statement from Bioware read as follows:
Due to the design constraints of a fully voiced MMO of this scale and size, many choices had to be made as to the launch and post-launch feature set. Same gender romances with companion characters in ‘Star Wars: The Old Republic’ will be a post-launch feature. Because ‘The Old Republic’ is an MMO, the game will live on through content expansions which allow us to include content and features that could not be included at launch, including the addition of more companion characters who will have additional romance options.
"Companion characters" are typically non-playable, computer-controller characters who follow the player's avatar through the game world and offer various options for interaction. In case of many Bioware games, that often includes navigating scripted social interactions that can result in a romantic relationship if the player makes the right choices. Dragon Age and Mass Effect are among the games that contain these options.
For the hundreds of users who have been spent weeks arguing the case that such options should be included, this is welcome news. Particularly as so many were hurt to see a consistently inclusive developer like Bioware appear to suddenly reverse course.
Exactly when that additional content will be available is still unknown, as right now the game's release day is ambiguously scheduled for "holiday 2011." However, GLAAD thanks Bioware for listening to its fans, and working to make this new game yet another example of their commitment to offering options more fully reflecting the diversity of their users.