Star Wars ‘Gay Planet’ Upsets Advocates and Opponents Alike

Bioware bungles addition of same-sex romance to Old Republic

If you run a popular video game and you're on the fence about including gay themes, what's the best way to make everyone happy? Not like this.

Bioware, creator of Star Wars: The Old Republic, announced this week that it will finally add same-sex relationships to the year-old massively multiplayer game—but only on one planet. What was supposed to be a first step toward making the game more inclusive has instead sparked complaints from all sides.

Supporters of same-sex relationships say Bioware is creating a gay ghetto in The Old Republic, while players opposed to the move say it's a waste of resources that will distract the developers from making game improvements that are in higher demand.

Since the game's December 2011 launch, Bioware has occasionally been criticized for its all-hetero Star Wars universe and has apologized for the delay in adding homosexuality as a romance option. But the game has also struggled to maintain an active player base, and other upgrades generally have taken precedence. (The game has already set a Guinness World Record for most lines of voiceover dialogue, and the developers says they simply didn't have time to record lines for Jedi who swing their lightsabers both ways.)

However, the game's next expansion, "Rise of the Hutt Cartel," will reportedly feature some options for same-gender romance on a planet called Makeb (above). And no, it won't really be a "gay planet." It's simply the first place that Bioware will implement gender-neutral relationships like it has in its other hit games, Mass Effect and Dragon Age. But thanks to the lengthy delay, instead of taking one subtle step forward, the developers are instead stumbling awkwardly ahead and annoying just about everyone who would care about the issue one way or another.