When Activision Blizzard launched the official merchandise line for its Call of Duty League, the collection was met with plenty of criticism around the uniformed approach that was taken. Now, however, the developer has collaborated with Ultimate Media Ventures‘ ULT on the Night Shift collection.
To get some insight into the collection, the approach that was taken, and what fans can expect, we spoke with co-founder Nate Eckman and art director Justin Whitesel.
Esports Insider: How did you approach the custom line?
Nate Eckman: At ULT we take a lifestyle approach to design, thinking about how these pieces will be worn by players on and off stage. We are also fans first so we think about how the core community will receive the work. We found inspiration in our experiences with eUnited as well, developing products for them on their ascent to becoming champions. We find a ton of inspiration in the idea of these leagues shaping the future of competitive play. It is an awesome time to be a gamer and a lot of fun to design within that culture as it evolves.
“Being able to offer the players and fans something different outside of standard items that fits their everyday lifestyle is what we are all about.”
ESI: Have you solely tried to accommodate to Call of Duty fans or is mainstream appeal important?
NE: I think Call of Duty is a game that has reached mainstream appeal. The core fans are super important to us and we want to elevate everything we do so we can offer them something awesome that will also resonate with a global audience.
Justin Whitesel: When we conceptualize we think about ‘how can we serve the core correctly?’ If we execute that well then the mainstream will follow.
ESI: What was the biggest challenge when developing the range?
NE: Like so many things in life it all comes down to timing. It takes time to get through the deal, the planning meetings, the design iterations, approval process, product sampling and photoshoots to capture the story all leading up to the launch of this amazing league.
“We wanted to put an emphasis on the unique qualities of each community as they are quite different from one another.”
ESI: How important is it for leagues, such as the Call of Duty League, to have apparel outside of the standard team jerseys and jackets?
NE: Lifestyle gear is hugely important to us. Being able to offer the players and fans something different outside of standard items that fits their everyday lifestyle is what we are all about at ULT.
ESI: Were there any similarities in the process when designing for the Call of Duty League when compared to your work with the Overwatch League?
NE: We wanted to put an emphasis on the unique qualities of each community as they are quite different from one another. Finding our inspiration comes out of immersing in the community we are designing for so in that sense there are similarities in our process even if the outcome looks different between the two leagues.
ESI: Is the line a one-sided affair or did you work closely with the league and Activision Blizzard to get it over the finish line?
NE: The publisher and league office is fantastic and collaborative, inviting us to creative briefings, making time for design development sessions and enabling us to quickly work through getting the first collection completed. It is a very collaborative process with team member support from design, development, strategy, marketing and production in order to get it all done while still staying true to our ULT voice.
“We are actively developing more collections which will be revealed as the season progresses. “
ESI: Can we expect more from yourselves and the CDL in the future or is this a one-off collaboration?
NE: While this is our first drop from ULT for CDL, we are actively developing more collections which will be revealed as the season progresses. We have also seen the feedback from fans looking for more unique apparel options and we are actively working with teams to create special capsules.
JW: I grew up playing Call of Duty, some of my best friends I’ve met through playing the game. This isn’t just a line of clothes. This is for everyone who loves Call of Duty and can connect with that feeling of competitive gaming with their friends, having fun. We are going to keep designing for them.
The first drop from ULT’s Night Shift collection for Call of Duty League will be available for purchase on February 7th.