“In what is likely to be the only piece of positive PR that the world football governing body will receive this week, publisher Electronic Arts has announced it will be introducing female footballers into its Fifa video game series, beginning with the forthcoming Fifa 16 edition. The game features 12 international all-female teams, 11 of whom will appear at next month’s World Cup finals, including hosts Canada as well as England, Brazil, Germany and Spain. For each squad, the regular first 11 – along with select reserves – have been facially scanned using the same techniques applied to the men’s game, so photorealistic versions of world player of the year Nadine Kessler, USA all-time leading scorer Abby Wambach, and England skipper Steph Houghton are all certain to feature.
Wambach also spent a day providing female-specific motion capture at developer EA Sports’ Vancouver HQ, along with USA team-mates Sydney Leroux, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe. Fifa 16 certainly won’t be the first football sim to include female players. In 2000, UK studio Silicon Dreams included women’s football in its Mia Hamm 64 Soccer and Uefa Dream Soccer titles, though both reviewed poorly at the time. Series vice-president and general manager David Rutter claims that his team has been working to overcome the technical challenges of including women in its football sim for a considerable time.
“It’s been in the pipeline for a few years, and really it was just a case of making sure that the game was in a good enough state for it the work properly,” said Rutter. “We needed to have tools and technology in place that could differentiate between men and women…”