Nintendo's new Fire Emblem will introduce same-sex marriage to the strategy role-playing game series, Nintendo confirmed to Polygon today.
"We can confirm that Fire Emblem Fates for Nintendo 3DS, which launches in Japan on June 25, 2015, and is coming to the U.S. and Europe in 2016, includes the possibility for a same-sex marriage to take place between the main character created by the gamer and another character in the game," Nintendo said in a statement.
In previous Fire Emblem titles, like 2012's Fire Emblem Awakening, players could marry characters of the opposite sex if they bonded closely through conversations. If relationships reached S-rank status in Fire Emblem Awakening, characters could have children, creating new playable characters. Fire Emblem Fates will feature an A+ ranking for characters of the same sex who form a strong bond.
In a statement, Nintendo explained how same-sex relationships will work in the two editions of Fire Emblem Fates.
"Fire Emblem Fates comes in two different versions, called the Conquest and Birthright editions," Nintendo said. "In the U.S., Conquest and Birthright will both be sold separately, as is already the case in Japan. For those who have purchased either the Conquest or Birthright edition, a third edition will be made available as downloadable content at a later stage. Details on how the three storylines will be made available in other regions will be announced at a later date.
"We believe that our gameplay experiences should reflect the diversity of the communities in which we operate..."
"In the Conquest edition of the game, there is a male character that the game's player may have his/her male main character marry after they bond in battle. Similarly, the Birthright edition features a female character that a female main character may marry after bonding in battle. Both of the aforementioned characters can be encountered in the third edition of the game."
In other words, if players want to have a relationship between two male characters, they'll need to either purchase the Conquest edition or download the third storyline. If players want to pursue a relationship between two female characters, they'll need the Birthright version (or, again, download the third storyline).
Nintendo has been criticized in the past for restricting same-sex relationship options in its games, notably in Nintendo 3DS life simulation game Tomodachi Life. That game did not include the option for same-sex relationships because it was not part of the game's design, the developer said. At the time, Nintendo said it "never intended to make any form of social commentary" regarding gay and lesbian relationships in Tomodachi Life, and fans responded with campaigns voicing their support for same-sex gameplay considerations.
In the company's statement today, Nintendo explained why it's including same-sex relationship options for the new Fire Emblem.
"We believe that our gameplay experiences should reflect the diversity of the communities in which we operate and, at the same time, we will always design the game specifications of each title by considering a variety of factors, such as the game's scenario and the nature of the game play," Nintendo said. "In the end of course, the game should be fun to play. We feel that Fire Emblem Fates is indeed enjoyable to play and we hope fans like the game."