EA Sports announced Thursday it will be adding women's teams to its NHL 22 video game for the first time when an update is launched in January.
The game will add International Ice Hockey Federation women's national teams and the IIHF Ice Hockey Women's World Championship. This means stars including Team USA's Kendall Coyne Schofield and Hilary Knight and Hockey Canada's Marie-Philip Poulin will be playable in the game.
"The introduction of women's national teams to NHL 22 as part of the upcoming IIHF content will be an important moment for the franchise in its continued effort to reflect the diversity of the hockey community," EA sports vice president Sean Ramjagsingh said, per ESPN's Greg Wyshynski.
Players can choose from 10 women's teams to play with in tournament mode. Aside from the United States and Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Hungary and the ROC are expected to be included in the game as those are the teams that competed in the 2021 IIHF Women's World Championship.
The decision to add women's teams is part of a trend among major sports video game franchises over the last several years. Women's teams were introduced to EA Sports' FIFA series in 2015, and NBA2K began including women in the 2020 version of the game when it added WNBA teams.
Both FIFA and NBA2K give players the option to customize their own female character, too. The NHL series has had the capability for players to create a female player for various game modes such as World of Chel, but the commentators would refer to that player as a man as the game did not have any commentary for women's players.
In addition to women's content, the game is also being updated to include IIHF content for men's teams in January. The IIHF World Junior Championship and IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will be included.