With the women's World Cup due to kick off next month, developer EA Sports has announced that the upcoming FIFA 16 will finally introduce female players to the long-running series. The new option will include a dozen different national teams — including Germany, USA, France, Sweden, England, Brazil, Canada, Australia, Spain, China, Italy, and Mexico — and EA notes that women's teams will only be able to play against each other, so you won't be able to see how Abby Wambach lines up against Clint Dempsey.
David Rutter, head of the FIFA series, tells The Guardian that the feature has been in the works for some time, but that the developer waited until it could be done properly. "We needed to have tools and technology in place that could differentiate between men and women," he explained. "Plus, we had to factor in the time and effort required for traveling around the world to scan faces and heads, record motion capture, etc. It's been on the to-do list for a while."
The game will include the scanned likeness of some of the bigger names in women's soccer, including Canadian Christine Sinclair and England captain Stephanie Houghton, and Rutter says that a new animation system was built to accommodate the new players. "It's a pretty big change," he said.
"It's been on the to-do list for a while."
EA isn't the only developer to use technical issues as an excuse for excluding female characters. At last year's E3, a Ubisoft developer claimed that including female assassins would have "doubled the work" for an Assassin's Creed game. However, the next game in the series, the London-based Syndicate, will include a brother and sister pair as the main playable characters. The news also comes after a terrible few days for FIFA, following the news that several key officials had been arrested on corruption charges.
As for the game, Rutter says that female club teams, such as Manchester City or Arsenal, could be added in the future, but for now he's just happy that the feature has finally been included. "It's a big relief for everyone."
FIFA 16 is launching on September 22nd, while the Women's World Cup kicks off on June 6th.