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EA’s last FIFA game is finally making women’s soccer a priority

After revealing Chelsea star Sam Kerr on its cover earlier this week, EA has unveiled the first trailer for FIFA 23 showing that women’s soccer will finally be a key part of the game. It will include women’s club teams from the top leagues in England and France, along with both the women’s and men’s competitions in both the 2022 Qatar World Cup and 2023 Australia/New Zealand World Cup. 

International women’s teams have been available in EA FIFA games since 2016, but this will be the first edition with club teams. The women’s game has climbed in popularity thanks in part to the Olympics and other international competitions, and the 2022 World Cup will provide another huge boost. Two leagues is far short from the dozens available for men’s soccer, but it looks like EA plans to add more via future updates. “We’re committed to building an equitable experience and aspire to help grow women’s football,” said FIFA 23‘s Matt Lafreniere.

FIFA 23 also introduces cross-play functionality and more “realistic” gameplay via its latest evolution of HyperMotion2 technology, EA said. That feature applies machine learning to motion capture data to create smoother player movements during gameplay.

FIFA 23 will be EA’s last version of the game with the FIFA name, as it failed to come to terms with FIFA over financial and exclusivity issues. However, EA still holds licenses for more than 300 soccer partners and has exclusive agreements with the likes of the Premier League, MLS, La Liga, Bundesliga and Serie A. The series will be rebranded as EA Sports FC in its future versions.

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Game

Women’s soccer is coming to ‘Football Manager,’ but it will take a while

Football Manager developer Sports Interactive has a history of inclusive gameplay, and that now extends to women. The company has revealed that it’s adding women’s soccer (aka football) to its management sim. This will likely be a “multi-year” project, SI warned, but this also isn’t a simple character model swap. The studio wants to offer the same kind of depth it has for men’s sport while accounting for the differences between players and leagues.

There will be new models and databases, of course. However, SI noted that it also has to account for different league rules, gender differences in text translations (the most expensive part of the project) and tweaks to different player attribute systems. The company also has to decide whether or not it accounts for certain practical realities of women’s soccer, at least at first — does it factor in menstruation and pregnancy, for example?

The team recently hired coach and research expert Tina Keech to lead its women’s soccer efforts, and there are already motion capture sessions underway.

The expansion will likely prove costly. SI expects adding women will “cost millions,” and it’s looking for sponsorship deals that could help fund the project. However, the company believes there’s a moral imperative to add women to the game — it wants to “smash” the glass ceiling for women’s soccer and help it get the same attention given to men’s leagues. In other words, Football Manager will be part of a larger sports equality campaign that includes games like FIFA as well as better TV coverage of real-world matches.

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