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Where are the Female Players in FIFA 15?

/ Jun 23rd, 2014 10 Comments

Fifa 15

At E3 2014, EA Sports worked to pump fans up about the newest installment of the FIFA franchise, perfectly timed alongside the kickoff of the FIFA World Cup. While the press hammered Ubisoft with questions about women’s roles in Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Far Cry 4, FIFA 15 managed to sidle by unnoticed.

The Internet virtually exploded after Ubisoft Creative Director Alex Amancio told Polygon that Assassin’s Creed: Unity’s four-player co-op will not offer female character options due to production stresses.

“It’s double the animations, it’s double the voices, all that stuff and double the visual assets,” Amanico said.
 

Uproar followed the announcement that the four playable characters would all be male

Uproar followed the announcement that the four playable characters of AC: Unity would all be male

The decision to cut female representation in particular and the supposed reasons behind it upset many. Critics including Assassin’s Creed III Animation Director Jonathan Cooper further inflamed fans with his tweet saying, “In my educated opinion, I would estimate this to be a day or two’s work. Not a replacement of 8,000 animations.”

While the gaming community forced Ubisoft to backtrack and reconsider future titles, EA Sports did not get the same criticism for failing to add female soccer players to one of the world’s biggest game.

“It’s something that we’ve been asked quite a bit, and something we very seriously consider, but we don’t have any news on it today,” FIFA 15 Senior Producer Nick Channon told X-One when asked if the game will include women’s leagues. “But it is definitely something we considered and continue to do so.”

While the retention of women’s club level leagues in the United States has been shaky at best, the National Women’s Soccer League continues to grow in popularity and retain stability in its second year, even adding a new team based in Houston this year. Further, since its introduction in 1991, the FIFA Women’s World Cup has also grown, especially in the U.S., as the US Women’s National Team has placed in the top three every time the event has taken place.
 

The USWNT has also seen huge success at the Olympics

The USWNT has seen huge success.

Questions about when women will get to star in a soccer game are not exactly new. Petitions have demanded that women be included in FIFA as well as EA Sports’ NHL and PGA Tour franchises. When it comes to women’s sports, soccer tops both hockey and golf in popularity by far. Despite all of the needling from fans, EA has shown no indication of moving in a more inclusive direction with the FIFA franchise other than a non-committal mention of “considering” it.

In an interview last year, FIFA Producer Sebastian Enrique shook off the female players issue in an eerily similar way to Ubisoft’s response regarding Assassin’s Creed this year.

“It is something we have talked about but there are no plans at the moment,” Enrique told GodisaGeek. “There are lots of things we would have to change though, like the physics would be different, it could affect collisions. There would have to be a lot of new models and hair styles, there are a lot of things that are involved.”

In case it needed to be more explicit, his reasoning is basically that developers would have to include breast physics to go with movement and collisions, let alone the complexity of creating long flowing hair that female players have–as if male players all have the same build and hairstyles, and are not just as diverse as females.
 

Because male soccer players all look so much alike

Because male soccer players all look so much alike.

The excuse received nowhere near the backlash Ubisoft faced this year at E3 when developers claimed they backed off female assassins for modeling reasons as well. The topic did not come up at all for FIFA 15, instead taking a backseat to the multitude of new features EA Sports is bringing to the latest installment of the franchise.

Flag and net movement, expanded detailing of character models, an interactive pitch and realistic dribbling were all bragged about profusely. But the requirement to model longer hair for some players and the notion that physics would be completely different for female players is unfounded.
 

I'm fairly sure dribbling and kicking are very similar regardless of gender

Dribbling and kicking seem very similar regardless of gender.

It leads one to wonder what the real reason is that the FIFA franchise shies away from expanding its roster to women’s teams–or at least international women’s teams. Considering the rhetoric surrounding women’s soccer in some countries as illegitimate, perhaps fear that they will alienate some of their fanbase is a factor. Fear of upsetting one demographic or another has been reason enough for games in the past to exclude groups including women, particular races, and LGBT.

However, as soccer fans around the globe cheer on their teams, and U.S. fans in particular chant “One Nation. One Team,” it is hard to ignore that half of the team is still missing from gaming’s biggest representative of the sport.

 

Miranda L Visser

Miranda L Visser

Gaming since she dug an NES out of a dumpster down the street from her home as a child, Miranda L Visser contributes to Gaming Illustrated while working on her M.A. in Norway. She dearly misses steak and being able to walk down the street to buy cheap games.
Miranda L Visser
Miranda L Visser

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  • TNwhiskey

    Interesting article. Very well written. Unfortunately, the fact is that, while popular, women’s soccer is fringe in terms of relating to a video game. How many women would buy it? If it’s not going to sell, why make it? I’m upset there won’t be any playable female characters in AC:U, but that’s because I feel like they can bring something to the story, ala Mary Read and Bonnie from AC:BF.

  • thefauxghost

    Im sorry but in no way will including female teams ever make me buy a fifa game. With all due respect sport games are associated with the male half of the sport not the often far smaller female section. To be honest I was quite irritated that something like this is even being discussed. A new game is coming out and people are trying to make the fact that female characters aren’t in them seem important? If you think that games should represent every type of person, be it male, female, straight, gay and every race, just because it’ll make you feel better, then you are an idiot.

  • Gymiee

    I’m a big fan of sports and video games and this is pretty disappointing to me. If they ever get around to growing a spine and doing it Wambach and Solo will probably be done. They’re asking themselves why too many times as opposed to why not. They put females in their new UFC game this year mainly due to Rousey and Tate but not for the stars of female football. If I started mentioning all the players that I like I’d never stop. I know tons of girls that are into video games and sports and it just bothers me that they can’t enjoy a sports game the way that I do. Everything a game company does isn’t successful, why not do it and get it over with? They may be fans moreso of money than sports but they can at least do a better job faking it.

  • Ultima-X

    Who cares?

  • Jason Mounce

    The main demographics of Sports is:

    A – Males
    or
    B – Females

    Can you guess which is correct? Well then, assume the Gaming Industry, like a Business for once – Now, which is most logical for a company to make a Sports game to gear towards. The majority, or the minority? Guess right again and you win a cookie!

    I’m all for equality, but there’s dumb ideas and smart ideas. The game would win some hearts of women and male gamers alike but it would not get any sales at all.

  • ThePokeMaster

    You’d need a separate mode or an entire game for the 24(?) teams.

  • Magic Carpet

    Is this the new trend in “gaming journalism”? Bitching about lack of females for the heck of it?

    First of all, this would greatly add to the cost. You’d have hundreds of new players, with different animations, you’d need scout reports for most of them, if not all. You’d need to get licenses for a whole host of new tournaments and leagues. And if it resembles anything like the real thing, it’ll be boring as hell and no one would play it.

    The new Kim Kardashian game is available on Appstore. It already has 40,000 reviews, mostly 5 stars. That’s the game most girls want, as evident by the number of positive reviews. It’s unlikely that they’ll buy a console and a game to play the latest Assassin’s Creed game because the main character is a female in a pink hood.

  • PCGamerSince1987

    Football is a male dominated sport, video games are male dominated. There you have your answer.

  • Alfonso Marañon

    As a player from a football family, I disagree. Women kick, run and even stand much differently from men. Animations would sure cost quite a lot. The hair animations excuse is lazy, but breast physics are important, without them it could really ruin the next gen feeling of the game. Also, female player stats would be horrible. No offense ladies, but a woman will never be as physically adept as an equally aged and trained man. Also, if you want to complain about diversity, how about adding more examples other than America? What Ubisoft did may have been douchey, but considering the failure of AC: Liberation you could hardly blame them.

  • Stephanie Andrews

    Football/Soccer in America is more popular among women then it is among men. There’s one major reason because it’s a sport that women can do and produce a similar product to the men version. With rare exception most women can’t slam dunk so basketball doesn’t look the same, they don’t have the strength to overhand pitch so softball came to be but, it even at it’s highest form looks interfere to baseball. All that said, as a former player in school not having females won’t stop me to play FIFA

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