In a lengthy blog post, Rune Factory 5’s publishers confirmed that the English localisation will allow same-gender marriages. This decision marks the first time that Rune Factory players can get gay married without a workaround.
Rune Factory 5 is both an action-RPG and a farming simulator. Players fight monsters like in most JRPGs, but they must also run a successful farm. The game is similar to other sims such as Story of Seasons and Stardew Valley. And as in those, each Rune Factory game allows players to marry one of its numerous love interests. Each potential spouse came with their own unique personality and background, which ended up becoming a huge selling point for the series.
On September 23, Western publisher XSEED announced that the English, French, and German versions of Rune Factory 5 will have same-gender options at launch. These features will also be patched into the Japanese edition at a later date. There will be 12 love interests in total, and all of them are marriageable for both protagonists.
It took the series a while to reach this point. Rune Factory 3 only included bachelorettes for its sole, male player character. While Rune Factory 4 allowed you to select a gender and technically have same-gender romances, the implementation wasn’t ideal, requiring you to change your character’s gender after the main campaign just to have a marriage. The characters in the game would also misgender the protagonist if they changed their gender presentation. Oof.
The developers at Marvellous and XSEED have long claimed they’ve been interested in including queer romance in their farming simulators. In 2016, lead producer Yoshifumi Hashimoto stated that the development team behind Story of Seasons: Friends of Mineral Town planned to be more inclusive as part of the roadmap for the series. After Story of Seasons successfully implemented those same-gender features, the localisation team asked to include gay marriage in Rune Factory 5.
While both the willpower and resources for romantic inclusion were present for years, the localisers at XSEED acknowledged the influence of Rune Factory’s devoted players.
“Most of all,” their blog concluded, “we’re thankful to the many patient fans for asking for its inclusion in social media comments and emails over the years.”