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EA Sports invests in women’s football despite ‘Twitter echo chamber minority’

EA SPORTS is going all in on women’s sports, and they’re not token efforts.

Efforts to increase the profile of women’s sports and elevate athletes’ voices away from the video game industry, when combined with the increased equity in their games, will surely pay off in new audiences arriving to play.

Sam Kerr and Lauren James on the red carpet of EA Sports' first Women’s Football Summit in London.

Sam Kerr and Lauren James on the red carpet of EA Sportsfirst Women’s Football Summit in London.Crédito: EA SPORTS

Backlash in pockets of social media on ‘wasted investment’ in the women’s game, especialmente com FIFA 23, has been noticed by the company.

Complaints about massive developments in women’s visibility, neglecting other game modes, or ‘taking up hard drive space’, appear every time EA Sports announces further female representation.

Unwavered, at its first Women’s Football Summit in London, EA Sports announced a fresh host of initiatives to champion the women’s football community and grow the game.

The event was packed out with stars of women’s football, Incluindo FIFA 23 cover athlete e Chelsea forward Sam Kerr, to discuss the future of the sport and EA’s ambitions to improve female representation on the bestselling football sim.

As well as announcing the UEFA Women’s Champions League’s upcoming inclusion in FIFA 23, with the update coming for free in spring 2023, the company has committed an initial investment of $11million to grow the game.

This accelerator fund will incorporate in-game, league, club and athlete investments, and fund internships for young females in the leagues represented in-game.

“EA Sports is at the epicentre of global football fandom, and we recognise the role we have in representing and elevating diversity and participation in the sport,” said Andrea Hopelain, SVP of Brand, EA Sports.

“Our commitment extends beyond the pitch in the virtual and real world.

“The Starting XI Fund reinforces our dedication to unrivalled authenticity and representation in our games, and also showcases our focus on being changemakers for the future of the sport.”

Em uma entrevista com GLHF at the inaugural event, she went on to explain more about EA’s ambitions.

“It’s one of the most important things that we can do – to grow the love of this sport around the world.

“Women have had a really challenging history in equity in the sport and being able to play at the same ease and access as men have,” she explained.

Women’s football has been playable in the FIFA franchise since FIFA 16. Whilst their inclusion was groundbreaking, until now the gameplay and graphics weren’t much to write home about, and fans were limited to a selection of national teams.

Women’s gameplay in FIFA 23 feels totally different from men’s squads, and the presentation looks like primetime coverage.

The addition of club football with the English and French top divisions (no NWSL yet) is a step in the right direction.

But authenticity has taken a long time.

“The women’s game is much more technical, for sure.

“It plays just like women play by having the technology to be able to deliver the right female skeletons.

“We’re not mapping female players onto male skeletons,” Hopelain explained.

Thanks to HyperMotion2 capture using professional women for the first time, developers had the data to build a proper simulation of women’s football.

“To build the right technology infrastructure to enable the fluidity and technicality of the women’s game, all of those things had to come together, and it took a couple of years to build it right," ela adicionou.

“So I don’t believe we’re late. I believe we’re right on time… Because we did it in the best way we could ever imagine delivering.”

Whilst including women’s league rosters for the first time is groundbreaking from the FIFA team, some fans feel sold short as they are noticeably absent from Career Mode, where fans can create players to build a legacy with or take over the management and transfers of their team.

Em vez de, women’s league football is playable only in tournament play, with significantly less immersion.

“We’re just getting started. E, novamente, it’s about respecting and honouring the women’s game and not just making one-to-one moves with what we’ve done with the men’s game,” Hopelain said to address this.

“I’d love to distil the expectation that we’re just going to map our actions to what we’ve done with the men’s game because I think that that does the women’s game a complete disservice.

“And so we have a lot of ambition.

"Sim, and I’m not gonna give you all their plans tonight," ela adicionou.

Expectations are high as EA Sports rebrands its football game as EA Sports FC for its next instalment, but women’s play is hinted at having even more involvement.

The most popular, profit-making game mode in FIFA 23 is FIFA Ultimate Team (FUT), where women currently play no role.

Female superstars in ice hockey have been added to the NHL 23 equivalent, but Hopelain was coy about their addition to FUT.

“We are taking unique approaches across all of our titles," ela disse.

“Our investment in women’s hockey has been significant over the last year, and I love that you’ve seen and recognised it.

“10 IIHF teams inside the game, Sarah Nurse on the cover with Trevor Zegras.

“We’ve got LPGA players coming into PGA Tour next spring, we’ve got female coaches inside of Madden.

“We’re taking a really distinct approach with each game, and our commitment is unwavering.”

The online response to an increased presence for women has been disappointing from some of the FIFA community, and it’s something that I had to ask EA’s brand chief about.

It’s something that she is undoubtedly aware of.

“Twitter can be a little bit of an echo chamber to your point, a vocal minority,” Hopelain stated.

“It’s disheartening to see that kind of response.

“And on the flip side, the data would prove to you that the decision was the right one.

“The growth in the women’s game inside of FIFA 23 is grown by triple digit numbers.

“Chelsea is the number one women’s club being played.

“We’re really here to serve all of our friends around the globe, and not just those that show up on Twitter every day.”

FIFA 23 is doing great. EA recently announced its best-ever launch in the 30-year history of the franchise, with over 10.3million players in week one.

“You can see through all of our actions and all of the big announcements that we’ve made tonight,” Hopelain said.

“Our investment in the women’s game between bringing UEFA clubs into the game, our announcement with DAZN, driving eyeballs onto the sport, and our Starting XI fund.

“The momentum in the world of sport would all point to the fact that we’ve made the right decision.”

Interviewed and written by Alex Bugg on behalf of GLHF.

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