The WNBA is a league on the rise. The WNBA kicked off its 21st season in May with the announcements of two groundbreaking partnerships. The first with Twitter in a multi-year streaming deal that will bring live WNBA games to the social network. The second with FanDuel making the WNBA the first women’s professional sports league to be available in one-day fantasy games.
This week the WNBA added another opportunity for growth and visibility as EA SPORTS announced that WNBA teams and players will be playable in NBA LIVE 18. For the first time ever, fans will be able to play as their favorite women’s basketball players in a video game. EA SPORTS conducted head scans and motion capture sessions of many of the league’s best players to make the game as realistic and authentic as possible. I asked Lynx All-Star Maya Moore for her thoughts on the game.
“Its cool. Everybody is excited to have something added to the basketball world that shows breadth of our game. Letting people have fun with some of their favorite players on the W side. More exposure, more ways for people to engage with us, so we’re moving forward. It’s just great for the game and adds excitement and more reasons to be involved in basketball,” Moore said.
For the WNBA, this is another move towards gaining credibility and acceptance with the casual sports fan. For EA SPORTS, it’s a way to differentiate itself from the competition (NBA 2K). Cheryl Reeve commented on what this news means to her.
“To be included obviously feels good,” Reeve said. “Feels like the right thing. It’s good business, because now you’ve opened up a new segment of people who are invested in buying. Now all the gamers maybe that weren’t interested in women’s basketball, now its an option (to play as the WNBA) and you start learning about the players and who can do what, so you’re more knowledgeable about the league and who plays for who. So I think there’s opportunities for growth all around in addition to it being a fun thing.”
Lynx center and league MVP frontrunner Sylvia Fowles isn’t a gamer but is excited for others in her family who are.
“I am excited for our fans, but also for my nieces and nephews who tell me ‘Auntie, you need to be in that game.’ They better (play as) me.”
NBA LIVE 18 will be available for Xbox One and PlayStation 4 this fall.