It all started with the shifting of just one pixel.
Activision Blizzard knew it wanted something disruptive to brand its new Call of Duty esports league that launched January 24-26 at the Minneapolis Armory in Minneapolis, Minn. It had a logo, but it just seemed flat. That’s when the massive video-game developer reached out to Los Angeles- and Seattle-based agency We Are Royale for its motion-graphics expertise.
“What they had originally was just the logo,” said We Are Royale Executive Creative Director Brien Holman. “They had this idea that they wanted it to be ‘disruptive.’ Even within the logo you can see that there’s one pixel that’s shifted over, which represents the shifting of the esports landscape.
“We took that logo and gave it some motion theory, some texture and the entire package started to organically grow from there.”
Once We Are Royale had tackled the logo, Activision Blizzard realized that there was quite a bit more to do. The new league was launching 12 teams in 11 cities—including two in Los Angeles as well as in New York, London and Paris—and each team needed its own specific logo and each player needed his own profile.
We Are Royale ended up designing the league’s information system and live broadcast graphics that live both in the arenas where the teams play and over livestreams on YouTube. Those graphics included team match-ups, player profiles, LED panels behind the stage and an LED floor on the stage —“anything that you need to pull off a live sports broadcast,” said Holmen.
The team also had to conduct live-action video and photo shots across the teams to capture everything they needed for graphics- and stats-heavy team and player profiles.
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In the end, We Are Royale saw the entire proposition as a sort of mini-network that lives on YouTube instead of on broadcast or cable TV.
“Esports at this point are getting enough of a following that they are rivaling professional sports,” said Holman. And that’s an opportunity for anyone “building network rebrands, promo packages, tool kits. All of that is playing into the esports scene.”
Just in and of itself, Call of Duty is a massive property, attracting some 100 million players over the past decade who have collectively spent $15 billion on the game. The game’s latest iteration—Call of Duty: Modern Warfare—came out in October 2019. And now the new esports league stands to make hundreds of millions of dollars more as esports gets bigger and bigger.
We Are Royale’s work in the gaming space has led to many other opportunities. The agency is working on other projects for Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch, which includes esports teams; Riot’s League of Legends, one of the world’s biggest esports leagues, having started in 2011; as well as Electronic Arts and Oculus.
Said Holman: “It’s nice to see gaming blowing up and maturing.”