It's been a long time coming. Starting in September 2015, fans of EA's popular FIFA series will be able to play with women's teams on multiple platforms.
Players can compete against other women's teams as Australia, Brazil, Canada, China PR, England, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, or the United States.
Outcry about the lack of female players in the series kicked up on social media after the 2011 World Cup, but EA cited licensing, needing different physics models, and having to model all the new players as reasons for not including them. (Considering they were able to get licensing and modeling done for some not-completely-mainstream men's leagues, parts of that defense are a bit questionable.)
As recently as September 2014, FIFA's lead producer Sebastian Enrique was still claiming they didn't have the resources to include women in the game. They were aware of the desire, but uninterested in allocating the resources to satisfy it. Perhaps they perceived that desire wasn't strong enough to translate to actual profit.
What's the big deal, you might ask. It's just a game. Consider this: EA Sports found that 34% of FIFA players in the United States became pro soccer fans after playing the game. FIFA 15 has sold 14.3 million copies worldwide. That's a lot of eyeballs logging a lot of hours. Video games can create intense, widespread culture exposure, soaking into popular consciousness over time. This could be huge for women's soccer, at least on a national team level.
There are, of course, whiners complaining that this will somehow hurt or pollute the game, because cooties. We won't link to them here because a quick scan of #FIFA16 on twitter will easily reveal all the crybabies out there.
But there will also be players who buy a copy, see that women are included, and continue to live their lives, just with the added subconscious note that it's normal for women to be included.
Women's soccer exists. It's growing, it's starting to make money—not enough yet for anyone to get arrested in Zurich over it, but give it time—and it's not going away. Get on board or get left behind.