Every year, Electronic Arts releases a soccer game called FIFA, which allows players to create their own soccer stars, play as famous athletes, and manage teams. With the release of FIFA 16 (as in 2016) later this year, the series will finally introduce women’s teams.
Women’s soccer is well established and has been around for a while, but for whatever reason, EA hasn’t bothered to include women in FIFA games yet. As far back as 2012, when they announced FIFA 13, they’ve claimed that they would be adding women, but it’s taken two whole games before it’s happened.
This is a good thing, just a long time coming. EA’s decision to include women in a video game based on a sport that they’ve been playing at the professional level since before Americans started to care about it may be late, but at least it’s happening. Video game companies have a proud tradition of ignoring the reality that women both exist and play video games in large numbers, and like to pretend that they don’t need to be represented in those games.
Last year, Ubisoft announced yet another Assassin’s Creed game, with yet another male protagonist, and once more no playable female characters. Their defense was that women were too hard to animate, but nobody fell for it. And while it probably didn’t hurt the games sales, certainly not as much as the initial release being filled with bugs and nearly unplayable at first, Ubisoft did catch a lot of flack for it.
EA has been smart enough not to issue statements like that. Generally, they are seen a as savvy, if cutthroat, publisher, so it’s possible that including women in FIFA 16 is more about ensuring more sales than it is about actually wanting to be inclusive and represent women. Regardless of why they made the decision, it’s the right one, and while it will likely help sales some, it will certainly stand as an example of how easy it is to both animate women and to include them in video games.