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Microsoft sued by Call of Duty gamers opposing Activision merger

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About two weeks after the Federal Trade Commission filed Lawsuit Blocking Microsoft’s Acquisition of Activision Blizzard10 gamers from California, New Jersey and New Mexico united file a lawsuit against Microsoft.

Reflecting many of the FTC’s concerns, gamers are criticizing Microsoft’s efforts to pressure and stop it from entering into “the biggest technology deal ever in the video game market” and swallowing the gaming industry’s biggest competitor. I hope

In its complaint, plaintiffs describe Activision Blizzard as a key competitor driving innovation and price competition across the industry. The public could suffer losses and harm as the acquisition, if allowed, would likely result in Microsoft exercising greater market power than it currently has. All of a sudden, it “acknowledged its ability to eliminate rivals, limit production, reduce consumer choice, raise prices, and further stifle competition.”

Under Clayton Antitrust Law, consumers, like industry competitors, have the right to oppose such acquisitions, and courts can consider anticompetitive damages brought by consumers. increase. Gamers are suing Microsoft for allegedly violating antitrust laws, and are deeply concerned that the prices of their favorite games could quickly skyrocket and the overall quality of their games decline. If the deal goes through, Microsoft could stockpile the best talent and the most popular games and gain “much more enormous market power,” they argue.

A Microsoft spokesperson told Ars that gamers’ worst fears are not justified.

A Microsoft spokesperson told Ars, “This deal will increase competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers as we strive to bring more games to more people. prize.

But the FTC seems to agree more with gamers. Press release to “Microsoft’s record of acquiring and using valuable game content to curb competition from rival consoles.”

Holly Vedova, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition, warned in a press release:

Loyal gamers fear potential monopolies

The people filing the lawsuits are bringing a unique perspective to the debate over Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision. Microsoft hopes to complete the acquisition in 2023. The complaint states that gamers are particularly vulnerable to price increases. Other games you love. That means Microsoft could take beloved titles like the Call of Duty game that all plaintiffs play and cut off access to platforms and services outside of Microsoft’s gaming ecosystem.

Microsoft has publicly stated that Call of Duty will be available on rival consoles from Sony and Nintendo for the next decade. But like the FTC, plaintiffs have seen Microsoft make similar promises before, only to go back on their word once the acquisition is complete. star field After acquiring ZeniMax Media in 2020.

Plaintiffs also argue that just because Microsoft promises to make the game available on other consoles or gaming systems, it is at the same time, of the same quality, or has the same features and upgrades. I would argue that it doesn’t mean

Consider the case where the complaint used Microsoft to use its popular Activision titles to increase its dominance and push competitors out of the emerging cloud-based gaming market. Similarly, exclusive perks for highly popular games offered only within Microsoft’s gaming ecosystem could drive users away from competing platforms, prompting Microsoft to “engage in a strategy to seize Sony.” They may even have the ability and incentives.

According to the complaint, one of the causes of declining quality of game content is the continued consolidation of the gaming industry. The deal could put Microsoft in a position to attract all the best game developers, and could deprive independent game studios of access to top talent. In this scenario, the complaint alleges that Microsoft’s strong position to set industry standards could cause the industry to suffer from lower wages, restricted mobility and worsening working conditions.

Ars was unable to immediately reach an attorney representing the gamers filing the lawsuit, but the complaint alleges plaintiffs believe that a better future for the gaming industry depends on Activision Blizzard existing as a separate market entity. As one of Microsoft’s only major competitors, he believes it will spur competition across the industry. .

“The competition brought to the industry by Activision Blizzard must be maintained to ensure that the next generation of video game innovation and value is enhanced by competition, not stifled by integration. ‘” their complaint states.

The litigating gamers have asked a U.S. federal court to declare that Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision Blizzard violates antitrust laws. Following in the FTC’s footsteps, they are fighting to ensure that the merger is permanently blocked.

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