Electronic Arts has announced that FIFA will feature female players for the very first time in the game’s 22-year history.
This year’s release, FIFA 16, will include 12 international women’s teams. While hardly comprehensive – by comparison, FIFA already features hundreds of men’s teams – this is an impressive start for the iconic game, and very much just a jumping off point.
Speaking to Ars Technica at a preview event, FIFA senior producer Nick Shannon talked about how important the addition is, not just to the game but to fans of the franchise: “I’m the father of two daughters who both play soccer and, for them, this is probably the best feature we’ve ever added.”
The addition of women’s teams to FIFA is something EA has been working on for quite some time, and something they had hoped to bring about at numerous points over the last number of years. The problem, according to Shannon, was in the limitations of technology.
One of the big issues was realistic hair movement. Although moving hair has been available in replays for some time, getting it to move correctly in real-time hasn’t been possible during gameplay, until now.
The other stumbling block was a matter of build. Changes had to be made to the animation rig to ensure that new female players didn’t just look like women’s heads on men’s bodies. Alterations were made to ensure that body scaling and body type would be different for all players.
For those who cry sexism of any sort – there are always one or two – it turns out that all of these mods are actually improving the representations of male players, too. Male body types are now being represented with greater nuance, and players like Ibrahimovich are benefiting from the improvements in hair animation.
While there has been some backlash on Twitter against the announcement, Electronic Arts COO Peter Moore has no patience for the vitriol.
— Peter Moore (@petermooreEA) May 28, 2015
FIFA 16 launches this September.
Women’s soccer image, via A.RICARDO/Shutterstock.com