NHL 13 will feature the likenesses of real female athletes as playable characters for the first time ever, Electronic Arts has announced.

Former Team USA superstar Angela Ruggiero will join former Team Canada great Hayley Wickenheiser - both four-time Olympic Ice Hockey medalists - as playable legends in the game.

The publishing giant has also indicated that following an online petition by FIFA fan Fernanda Schabarum, sometime in the future it would add female players to its FIFA series.

"The key thing about delivering on it is that it has to be of very good quality, very high value, rather than just an acknowledgment of women in football," said FIFA executive producer David Rutter.

This is something of a U-turn from the company, who earlier this month stated that it had no plans to include female athletes in its FIFA games.

NHL 13 will be available on September 13 on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.