The NHL video game series took a big step forward in 2022 when they added the IIHF women’s national teams to the game in time for the Winter Olympics. Every team was fitted with proper rosters and international jerseys. It was the first time stars like Hilary Knight and Marie-Philip Poulin were in the game and representing their respective countries.
It provided something that has been clamored about for years; women in the NHL video game franchise. It wasn’t the first time women’s hockey stars were in the series, legends Haley Wickenheiser and Angela Ruggiero were featured in NHL13 and the ability to create a female player has been in the game for a few years now. But it was the first time full teams of the to women’s hockey stars in the world took their rightful place in the video game world.
Even though their additions were major, outside of playing in the IIHF tournaments, there wasn’t much more you could do with the newly-added women. You couldn’t tweak the rosters to unite the Canadian and American stars or add them to NHL squads, so while it was a fun update, it did get stale rather quickly.
Though the IIHF rosters in NHL22 was a solid test run for a huge concept- putting women’s leagues in the game full-time. There’s plenty of women’s leagues on the rise across the globe. From the Premier Hockey Federation and the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association in North America to the Svenska Damhockeyligan in Sweden and Naisten Liiga in Finland to the European Women’s Hockey League that covers six different countries, there’s plenty of content to add.
With the Premier Hockey Federation expanding to eight teams and a second North American six-league team forming as the PWHPA dip their toes into a regularly scheduled league format, now would be the time to add them to the game.
The women’s hockey scene continues to gain momentum and capitalizing on a growing market should be high on the priority list for EA. Exposing a huge player base like the EA Sports NHL fans to women’s hockey in turn should draw them to the real life product, thus growing the game for everyone. And to the women’s hockey fans that may not be regular gamers, there’s a new market to grab as well. Seems like a win-win for everybody. So c’mon EA, give us what we want- women’s hockey in NHL23.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: ea.com