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Where Are the Women in EA Sports NHL?

NWHL Women Hockey EA Sports NHL

Back in 2015, EA Sports added women’s national teams to its FIFA soccer franchise for the first time. Since then, many have questioned when available women players were going to expand not only in FIFA, but the EA Sports NHL series as well.

Executive Producer Sean Ramjansingh has gone on record multiple times talking about the inclusion of women in games. However, it’s been more along the lines of something he and his team are looking into rather than anything with a set plan.

“Just like other leagues, it’s something we continue to look at,” he said back in 2015. “How we want to put in a female league in the future, if that’s the path we want to go down, what would that look like? There’s also, on the tech side, lots of things we’d have to do around females specifically to meet fan expectations.”

Fast forward two years later, and Ramjagsingh was once again asked about adding more women to the NHL series, mainly in the form of Women’s leagues like the NWHL.

“We still have the female character you can create in the creation zone,” he told SGO during the build up to NHL 18. “…but, just like every year, we evaluate all of the leagues out there – male and female – and look for the right opportunities.”

He also added at that time that the studio was continuing to work on adding national teams and women’s leagues like the NWHL and the now defunct CWHL “especially with female hockey becoming more and more prominent”.

Since that time, women’s hockey has only grown in popularity across the United States and Canada. The NWHL has stabilized and continues to grow while the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association (PWHPA) pushes to get women the ability to play the game full time for quality pay.

Even with the growth of the game, extensive women’s inclusion remains conspicuously absent from EA Sports. Sure, they’ve had legends in the past like Hayley Wickenheiser and Angela Ruggiero, and you can still create a female player in the game. But that’s been it as far as playable characters.

Where’s The Communication with EA Sports NHL?

Though you could assume that it’s because discussions are on-going with the NWHL, NWHLPA, and PWHPA, you’d be wrong. In fact, none of the three parties have had any communication with EA Sports about being a part of future EA Sports NHL titles.

“I wish there were but to this point we have never connected,” Anya Packer, Director of the NWHLPA, said.

She added that the NWHLPA is open and ready to talk about making sure women are a part of EA Sports NHL at any time. When reaching out to the NWHL offices, the league also said that it has had no communication with the company.

That left the PWHPA. When asked about any contact or interest from EA Sports about even bringing in teams like what fans have seen with the Dream Gap Tour, Operations Consultant Jayna Hefford said there hasn’t been anything.

“I am not aware of any conversations with EA sports regarding the inclusion of women,” the four-time Olympic Gold Medalist said. “I believe in the last couple of years they have designed female characters, but no sense that this is moving forward yet.

“Of course, we would love to be included as we feel the best women in the game deserve to be represented. Given the popularity and reach of EA Sports’ NHL games, it would certainly be an outstanding platform for our world-class athletes to be a part of.”

Women in EA Sports NHL 13

When reached for comment, a rep for EA Sports denied to comment on specifics, though did mention NHL 21 featuring the addition of the first female commentator in the game’s history.

Other requests for comment from EA Sports went either declined or ignored. Though the story will be updated appropriately should the company provide more detailed comments.

It’s been six years now since EA Sports first added licensed female athletes to its games in FIFA 16. While technology was blamed back then for the lack of inclusion, that is no longer the case with new hardware in the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

Case and point? The W in NBA 2K21 on PS5 and Xbox Series X. 2K Sports developed an entire mode centered around the WNBA to give female gamers both young and old a mode designed to showcase the skills of the greatest women’s basketball players in the World.

For EA Sports NHL not to do more in the coming years with women players isn’t just a disservice to fans, but it’s going to hold the sport back. Thousands of fans get their love of sport through video games, and having true representation of the best women’s hockey players in the game would, no doubt, do wonders to continue its upwards trajectory.

Featured Image Credit to Michelle Jay from The Ice Garden

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