Electronic Arts is making history today by adding 12 women’s national teams to its EA Sports FIFA 16 soccer game.
The title debuts on Sept. 22 in North America. The game series has been around since 1993, but for the first time, EA is incorporating the animated likenesses of some of the best women soccer players in the world. The decision is a sign that female video game players are becoming a larger part of the market, and diversity of content has become a more important issue on the radar screen of the male-dominated game industry.
The news comes on the heels of a host of arrests for corruption among FIFA leadership earlier this week. The arrested officials were in Switzerland and are being extradited to the United States to face charges.
It has taken a long time, but EA says it has done it right.
“When we added women to our game, we wanted to make sure it was done properly,” said Nick Channon, senior producer on the game, in an interview with GamesBeat. “You don’t want to get into a situation where you just add a woman’s head to a man’s body. We’ve had to do quite a lot of work to get to that point. Quite a lot of technology has been put in place in terms of body types, making sure we had a female body type that looked authentic and realistic. We had to change some of our technology to do that.”
EA’s is adding women’s national teams from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, and the U.S. The women’s teams gameplay will come with modes such as Kick Off, an offline tournament, as well as Online Friendly Matches.
David Rutter, the vice president and general manager of EA Sports FIFA, said in a statement that EA’s effort was massive and that it will create a new way to play for millions of FIFA players. It’s all about bringing an authentic experience to the game.
To create the likenesses, EA had to capture a sample of the women from the teams through its 360-degree motion-capture process, and then it created animated versions based on the real players at its EA Canada division in Vancouver.
The players’ movements helped to build new locomotion models for women in FIFA 16, including female-centric walks, runs, sprints, and horizontal movement.
“I honestly can’t believe all of the science and technology behind the game itself, let alone getting us into the motion-capture suits and eventually into the game,” said Abby Wambach, the world record holder for international goals scored and forward on the United States women’s national team. “We’re all excited to see ourselves in the game but even more excited to see the reaction from all of the fans.”
FIFA 16 will debut on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, and Origin.
(Updated at 8:25 a.m. Pacific with context on the arrests of FIFA officials this week.)