Call of Duty Players Suing Microsoft Over Activision Merger

Call of Duty Players Suing Microsoft Over Activision Merger: Ten gamers from California, New Jersey, and New Mexico have come together to sue Microsoft, roughly two weeks after the Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint to stop Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

The gamers are aiming to exert pressure on Microsoft to abandon “the largest tech merger ever in the video gaming sector,” which would result in Microsoft absorbing its most significant competitor in the gaming industry and driving prices down for everyone.

According to the plaintiffs’ case, Activision Blizzard is a significant threat that stimulates development and pricing competitiveness across the industry. Allowing the merger will give Microsoft even more market power, giving it “the capacity to foreclose rivals, limit output, diminish customer choice, raise prices, and further hinder competition,” thereby exposing the public to harm.

The Clayton Antitrust Act gives consumers the same protections as business rivals when they raise concerns about anti-competitive damages in response to mergers and acquisitions. Gamers are suing Microsoft for allegedly breaking antitrust law because they are highly concerned that the pricing of their favorite games will soon skyrocket.

In contrast, the quality of games will generally decline. They claim that if the merger goes through, Microsoft will be able to keep all of the top developers and publishers under its wing, giving it “far-outsized market influence.”

In an interview with Ars, a Microsoft representative assured the publication that the gamers’ darkest worries were unfounded. According to Ars, a Microsoft representative said, “This arrangement will boost competition and generate more options for gamers and game creators as we attempt to bring more games to more people.”

Although the FTC seems to side with gamers, citing “Microsoft’s pattern of acquiring and utilizing valuable gaming content to stifle competition from competing platforms,” the press release shows that the FTC is not entirely on board with Microsoft’s practices.

Microsoft “has already proved that it can and will suppress material from its gaming rivals,” FTC Bureau of Competition director Holly Vedova said in a press release.

Call of Duty Players Suing Microsoft
Call of Duty Players Suing Microsoft

Loyal gamers fear potential monopolies.

Microsoft hopes to acquire Activision in 2023, and the lawsuits filed to offer a new viewpoint on the proposed merger. The complaint claims gamers are especially susceptible to price increases since Microsoft knows consumers are unlikely to replace their favorite games with those of a different developer.

This implies that Microsoft can remove popular games, such as the Call of Duty series, which all plaintiffs play, and prevent them from being played on any device or service that isn’t part of Microsoft’s gaming ecosystem.

Microsoft has announced that it will make Call of Duty playable on competing platforms like Sony and Nintendo for the next ten years. The FTC and the plaintiffs allege that Microsoft has broken such pledges in the past, most notably with Starfield following the company’s 2020 acquisition of ZeniMax Media.

Even if Microsoft says it will release a game for other consoles or gaming systems, the plaintiffs say that doesn’t mean it will be released simultaneously, in the same quality, or with the same features and upgrades.

The complaint raises the possibility that Microsoft used the success of certain Activision games to strengthen its position and drive rivals out of the budding cloud-based gaming market, thus stifling the development of a competitive alternative.

Similarly, the complaint alleges that Microsoft “has the potential and motive to participate in efforts to foreclose Sony” by offering exclusive advantages on prevalent titles solely within the Microsoft gaming ecosystem.

According to the lawsuit, the ongoing consolidations within the gaming sector threaten the quality of game content. As a result of the agreement, Microsoft may be in a position to hire the industry’s top game creators, leaving smaller studios unable to compete for talent.

It is alleged in the complaint that Microsoft’s privileged position within the sector will lead to lower earnings, less opportunity for advancement, and unsafe working conditions.

Although Ars’s attempts to contact gamers’ attorneys were unsuccessful, the complaint states that the plaintiffs believe Activision Blizzard’s continued existence as a separate market entity would benefit the gaming industry as a whole because it would increase competition in the industry and pose a serious threat to Microsoft.

“The competition in the industry brought by Activision Blizzard must be protected to ensure that the next generation of video game innovation and value is increased through competition, not strangled by consolidation,” their complaint reads.

Players are asking a US federal court to rule that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard is illegal because it distorts competition. They are following in the footsteps of the FTC and working to stop the merger for good.

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