Small band of gamers team up to sue Microsoft over Activision Blizzard deal

A group of 10 gamers in the US have teamed up to file a federal antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft over its proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard.

As spotted by Bloomberg Law, the lawsuit argues that the acquisition will give Microsoft enough influence over multiple levels of the gaming industry “to foreclose rivals, limit output, reduce consumer choice, raise prices, and further inhibit competition”.

“Microsoft already controls one of the industry‚Äôs most popular and largest video game ecosystems,” the suit alleges.

“The proposed acquisition would give Microsoft an unrivaled position in the gaming industry, leaving it with the greatest number of must-have games and iconic franchises.”

Microsoft made the following statement in response to the lawsuit to Bloomberg Law: “This deal will expand competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers as we seek to bring more games to more people.”

The two law firms behind the suit also made separate statements justifying the legal action.

“As the video game industry continues to grow and evolve, it’s critical that we protect the market from monopolistic mergers that will harm consumers in the long run,” said Joseph Saveri of the Joseph Saveri Law Firm.

“This case represents a necessary step in preserving competition in the video game industry and protecting the consumer benefits and innovations that competition brings.”

“Nothing has been as destructive to the free enterprise system as the mega-mergers of the last two to three decades,” said Joseph Alioto of the Alioto Law Firm. “They destroy jobs; they raise prices; they cause quality to diminish and innovation to be stifled.”

As to whether this lawsuit will actually block the merger or if it’s just a shakedown of Microsoft, it’s more likely to be the latter.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of the Federal Trade Commission’s own lawsuit against the merger, and it is this path that will most likely lead to the deal being blocked if at all.

Rather, this particular lawsuit is effectively a class-action lawsuit in all but name. Analysis by FOSS Patents suggests it hinges on the possibility Microsoft would rather just payoff the plaintiffs to make the suit go away than fight it in court.

More lawsuits of this kind are likely to emerge as Microsoft tries to consolidate its resources in fighting the FTC as the primary lawsuit.