The Microsoft Activision Blizzard deal has come up against a fresh obstacle as a group of proclaimed “videogamers” has filed a civil antitrust suit against the Game Pass creator, claiming that the merger would lead to “less innovation” and “less creativity.”
In the civil suit, filed in San Francisco, ten plaintiffs, described as “consumers of videogames,” claim that Microsoft’s proposed $69 billion USD acquisition of Activision Blizzard would “create a monopoly in the videogame industry,” and offer Microsoft the ability to “foreclose rivals, limit output, reduce consumer choice, raise prices, and further inhibit competition.”
The filing outlines Microsoft’s history of acquiring other videogame developers and companies, including its purchase of Minecraft creator Mojang in 2014, and ZeniMax Media in 2020, which oversees Fallout, Skyrim, and Starfield developer Bethesda.
“As horizontally competitive game developers,” the filing says, “Microsoft and Activision Blizzard compete to design, create, promote, and sell the most innovative, enjoyable, and marketable games available to consumers. If the acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft were to be completed, Activision Blizzard, an exceptionally strong and important competitor in the game development market, and a significant rival of Microsoft would be eliminated, and competition would substantially lessened.”
In response, a Microsoft spokesperson has issued a statement to Bloomberg Law, saying that “this deal will expand competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers as we seek to bring more games to more people.”
Microsoft originally announced its intention to purchase Activision Blizzard in January 2022, saying that it expected the deal to be finalised by the end of the fiscal year 2023. The acquisition however has faced a large number of legal challenges, alleging that a merger of the two companies would lessen competition in the videogame market and offer Microsoft total ownership and control of popular series such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, and Diablo.
On December 8, the US Federal Trade Commission filed a suit attempting to block the Microsoft Activision Blizzard deal, claiming it would “harm competition.” The suit filed in San Francisco, which names only Microsoft as a defendant, not Activision Blizzard, says the merger would reduce “creativity.”
“The proposed acquisition…may cause loss to the plaintiffs, and the public at large, in the form of higher prices, less innovation, less creativity, less consumer choice, decreased output, and other potential anticompetitive effects, which deprive the plaintiffs, and the public at large, of the salutary benefits of competition.”
The suit hopes to obtain a court order blocking the Microsoft Activision Blizzard deal entirely.