Call of Duty Players Have Launched A Lawsuit To Stop the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard Merger

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Call of Duty Players Have Launched A Lawsuit To Stop the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard Merger

It looks like the Federal Trade Commission isn’t alone in taking issue with Microsoft’s planned acquisition of Activision Blizzard. Ten Call of Duty players have issued a private consumer lawsuit seeking to block the largest-ever merger in the industry. The suit comes roughly two weeks after the FTC sued Microsoft to stop the deal.

As reported by Reuters, the case, which is being filed in California, New Mexico, and New Jersey, is an antitrust suit that argues “If Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is allowed to proceed, the videogame industry may lose substantial competition, and Microsoft may have far-outsized market power, with the ability to foreclose rivals, limit output, reduce consumer choice, raise prices, and further inhibit competition.” The legal complaint also stated, “Vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws by private persons is an essential part of the congressional plan to ensure that competition rather than monopoly is, and remains, the rule of trade in the United States, including in the videogame industry.”

These arguments mirror those raised by the FTC in their case. As Holly Vedova, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, said in their press release announcing legal action, “Microsoft has already shown that it can and will withhold content from its gaming rivals. Today we seek to stop Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio and using it to harm competition in multiple dynamic and fast-growing gaming markets.”

As is evidenced by the Call of Duty players’ lawsuit, individuals can act as plaintiffs in antitrust cases even if there is an ongoing legal case being pursued by the U.S. government. Since the Microsoft and Activision Blizzard was announced, regulatory bodies from around the world have scrutinized the deal, with the European Union’s regulators seeming particularly likely to take action. The legal battle around the merger will be a protracted one, with the several European bodies making decisions in March and the FTC’s hearing scheduled for August 2023.