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FIFA 16 Women Football Team

The addition of women’s national teams in FIFA 16 has generated plenty of buzz around this year’s instalment.

There had been calls for the introduction of women’s football in FIFA games for many years, and after the hype around the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, the time was right to introduce it.

It hasn’t been an easy road, however, and EA Canada’s work to bring women’s football to FIFA 16 highlights the challenges in introducing an entirely new style and pace, one that differentiates from the male counterpart.
Speaking with MMGN, FIFA 16 lead producer Sebastian Enrique explained the processes to bring women’s football to the gaming masses.

“We actually made the first prototype about two years ago,” began Enrique. “We actually took one character from EA’s tennis game [Grand Slam Tennis 2], we put it into FIFA and we thought, ‘Yes, we can do it’, but this is the list of all the things that need to happen to do it properly, and by properly, what I mean is, everything we do, we have a goal to do it to the best possible quality.”

When asked about whether there was any doubt that the development team could create an enjoyable and balanced women’s football gaming experience, Enrique said that any “hurt to the flow” of the FIFA experience “would have been a deal breaker”.

For the general public it’s easy to call for the addition of women’s football, but the reality is that there are many complexities and challenges in molding an entire experience around that side of the sport, according to Enrique.
One such challenge was the game’s commentary — an important pillar in the offering of a realistic football game — which broke down across different languages.

“A lot of it is actually gender neutral. So just standard play of the game can be used for both male and female on your Fifa 16 account. But that’s in English. When you look at different languages, Spanish for example, it’s different for male and female,” explained Enrique. “In Portuguese, about 70 percent is specific to male.

When you call something, a play or something specific, you would say the act in a different way for a male as you would for a woman. The language of the sport is the same but there is masculine and feminine. So we have to revisit all of that, re-record all of that, to make sure it was female specific. It’s a massive undertaking.”

Another harsh reality is that logistical challenge of gaining access to the world’s best female footballers: while male footballers are playing and are on the road for much of the year, female players don’t earn as much for their effort, and so therefore are not as directly involved in the sport as often.

“It’s already extremely difficult to capture all of the men for a national team, but it’s easier because a woman’s national team aren’t all together as often,” he said. “They’re together during a tournament and the last thing they want to do is have their likeness taken because they want to focus on the game. So figuring that out, the timeliness of it, was tough as well.”

Thankfully for fans of women’s football, EA Canada is committed to offering an experience that is as close to the real thing as possible, and one that is unique next to the familiar styles of men’s football.

“How a female player actually moves compared to a male, there’s a difference,” Enrique explained. “We wanted that to be represented in the game. We didn’t want to just say, ‘Okay, we have women, let’s just use the male animation assets’. No, no, that’s not right.

“The physics, the movement, the likeness, it’s all so different in creating a genuine female football experience. A proper physics simulation of the players was important. So there are a lot of different elements.”

Key components of the sport — passing, shooting, tackling, positioning — we’re all critiqued by the EA Canada team according to Enrique, with the goal of finding elements of differentiation that they could use to mold the women’s football gameplay.

“When you watch women’s football, the physicality is different, and there’s much more space. There’s also less friction. Players prefer to shoot high because keepers tend to be not as tall. All of these different nuances, are the things we wanted into the game, to offer some differentiation.”

Enrique said that while the average gamer might see a lot of these elements as “small things”, it’s what the development teams sees and uses to build the most authentic women’s football game that it can.