EA Sports to feature WNBA teams, players on 'NBA Live 18' release

Updated: August 3, 2017, 2:23 PM ET
By Katie Barnes | ESPN Staff Writer

WNBA teams and players will be included on a video game for the first time when "NBA Live 18" is released on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this fall, Electronic Arts announced Thursday.

The rosters will only be available in "NBA Live 18" and playable in the WNBA Play Now mode.

"The WNBA is home to some of the most incredible athletes on the planet, and we've been working hard to integrate them into our game in an authentic and meaningful way," Sean O'Brien, the game's executive producer, said in a statement. "This is only a taste of what we have in store, and look forward to working with the league on more great integrations in the franchise in the future."

All 12 WNBA teams will be playable in WNBA Play now. The "NBA Live 18" team conducted head scans of many WNBA stars, including Maya Moore, Brittney Griner, Diana Taurasi, Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and others. EA also conducted motion capture sessions with Kelsey Plum, the No. 1 pick in the 2017 WNBA draft, in the summer of 2016.

"It really is cool. For me, I played video games when I was younger, whether it was the NCAA basketball game or 2K,'' Stewart told The Associated Press. "To be in a video game, it's humbling. You see men's players all the time, but it's good for women's basketball to have us in there.''

"NBA Live 18" will not allow for a fully customized experience like it does for NBA players and user-created male players, but that is the plan moving forward in additional installments.

"We've found that through research of a lot of different games in different genres that men and women like playing as women." O'Brien told espnW. "So that's something we're absolutely committed to moving forward."

The WNBA's partnership with EA comes on the heels of daily fantasy sports partnerships with DraftKings and FanDuel, expanding the ways fans can experience the league and its players.

"On behalf of the players, we believe that combining technology and entertainment is a powerful way to not only recognize and value our brand of basketball but to also increase fan connectivity and engagement," said WNBPA president Nneka Ogwumike, a forward with the LA Sparks.

Added WNBA president Lisa Borders: "With EA's expertise and ingenuity, the game will provide a terrific platform to showcase the players and the league, enabling fans to experience the WNBA in a new, exciting way."

"NBA Live 18" will be released in the fall. It is the first NBA Live title to be released since the fall of 2015. EA Sports, a branch of Electronic Arts, also produces Madden and FIFA titles.

It's not the first time that EA Sports has added females to its game. "FIFA2016" highlighted 12 women's soccer national teams, including the U.S., to the game in 2015.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Katie Barnes is a writer/reporter for espnW. Follow them on Twitter at Katie_Barnes3.

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