The world's most popular soccer game is finally adding female leagues

FIFA 16 women'sEA SportsTeam USA’s Alex Morgan digitally rendered with the help of facial and body scanners.

The next entry in EA Sports’ massively popular FIFA game series is adding 12 women’s national teams
for the first time in its history.

The women’s national squads included are Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, and the United States of America. They will feature in most online and offline game modes, but not in the game’s most popular mode, named “Ultimate Team.” The developer says this is due to the limited number of female players in this year’s game.

EA uses facial and body scanners that capture motion to replicate how some of the most popular men’s soccer players look and move on the soccer pitch for a realistic experience, and it’s doing the same for women. But EA’s David Rutter told The Guardian that it’s not as simple as adding female attributes to the current skeletal structure EA uses for its male players. The game developer had to rebuild the animation system to adapt to female proportions, and it had to factor in new animations for certain common female attributes, like longer hair.

FIFA 16 women's animationEA SportsBody scanners register how individual players move, which EA replicates in its FIFA games.

Rutter also told The Guardian how adapting the FIFA game to include female animations forced EA to implement scalable player “skeletons,” which leads to better individual male player animations.

The announcement comes at a time when soccer’s popularity is on the rise in the US, where the US Women’s National Team also garnered huge popularity due to its positive performance in international competitions.

It’s not the first time women’s teams and players have been included in a soccer game, as some lesser known titles existed in the past, and women were added to EA’s NHL video game series, too. FIFA is EA’s biggest worldwide franchise, and we can expect to see a more complete digital rendition of “the beautiful game” with the addition of female players and teams.

It’s a positive announcement during a time of duress for the FIFA organisation, as it is currently under pressure from authorities for corruption scandals.

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