Call of Duty League

Creative Direction

Branding a legend in the competitive gaming industry.

Call of Duty has remained a staple in the video game industry ever since it was introduced as a simple WWII shooter in 2003. From those small beginnings, the game has absolutely dominated the industry and created the very definition of today's modern competitive gaming leagues. Call of Duty League is the competitive branch of the game franchise created by Activision Blizzard, and needed a fresh broadcast design to kick off their inaugural season in 2020.

From then on, we’ve been tasked with helping define the visual evolution of the broadcast design for subsequent seasons. It’s been an honor to work with the talented team over at CDL and Activision Blizzard and our partnership over the years has truly been a highlight. These designs showcased here represent seasons 2020 and 2021.

Like any good branding campaign we started out looking at the established CDL logo and creating a title hierarchy that could work with the various events and promotions throughout the year. A type language was elaborated on and inspired by the logo with block details representing the pixel shift dynamic and the blocky end of the logo steps.

In the competitive world of CDL, a fraction of a moment that can be distilled down to the twitch of the hand is all it takes to define victory from failure. The visual manifestation of this idea can be seen throughout the toolkits with a digital glitch aesthetic that slowly solidifies over the seasons with the logo silhouette being the primary driver.

The 2020 Championship design toolkit was created as a continuation of the branded pixel glitch aesthetic introduced at the beginning of the 2020 season. The graphic language solidifies to become tangible extrusions of this pixelated glitch style. These slivers created a grounded form for bold graphic design to live on. As the league and players proved themselves, the branding followed suit with an evolved design system primed for their explosive growth. Making the visual jump from a flat graphic style to a tangible one creates a natural progression building up to the season championship.

As CDL went into the playoffs and finals, the color tones continued to shift, first going into a silver highlight, and finally a gold. To cap it off, we created video assets including a promo edit and a CG reveal piece for the newly designed trophy.

As we took stock of the incredibly successful inaugural year for CDL, we worked with the gang over at Blizzard Activision to discuss where the 2021 tone and style should go. As we designed the 2020 Championship toolkit, we took this into account with our design styling and even explored a multi-year roadmap for where this evolution could go. As we got serious about designing the 2021 look, we took this roadmap and expanded on it to react to the success of the 2020 season and pave the way for the next installment. This design language retained the solid pixelated look with our sliver language but began to play with these forms in a more organic way.

The slivers now feel more dynamic and we brought in a new element straight from the logo, the luminous pixel. Now, the 2021 season was going to embrace light and build on where we left off. As the season progressed, we continued to push the styling and embrace a sense of space that opened up towards the Championship. The idea of structure took hold and primed fans for an unforgettable year.

Looking back at the progress so far, CDL has seen a monumental rise in viewership each and every season. With the kickoff of the 2021 season, CDL saw 1.3 Million viewers tune in. That is a 70% increase in viewership from the 2020 kickoff a year prior. Total viewership hours also increased 50% from 2020 to the 2021 season as more fans were drawn to the undeniable skill put forth by these pro players. The incredible success and growth of the competitive franchise has only proven the interest in this competitive field.

As we look to the future, we see design playing an even larger role in making sure these games and players are showcased in the most creative way possible. This industry is young, and we’re just getting started.

Call of Duty League Broadcast Graphics