A private consumer lawsuit was filed against Microsoft Corp on Tuesday in a US court, alleging that the technology company’s $69 billion bid to acquire “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard Inc will unlawfully stifle competition in the video game industry.
The complaint was filed in federal court in California about two weeks after the US Federal Trade Commission filed a case with an administrative law judge seeking to prevent Microsoft, the owner of the Xbox console, from completing the largest-ever acquisition in the video-gaming market.
The private lawsuit also seeks an injunction preventing Microsoft from acquiring Activision. It was filed on behalf of ten video game players from California, New Mexico, and New Jersey.
The proposed acquisition would give Microsoft “far-outsized market power in the video game industry,” according to the complaint, with the ability to “foreclose rivals, limit output, reduce consumer choice, raise prices, and further inhibit competition.”
On Tuesday, a Microsoft representative did not immediately respond. After the FTC filed suit, Microsoft President Brad Smith stated, “We have complete confidence in our case and welcome the opportunity to present our case in court.”
Plaintiffs’ attorney Joseph Saveri in San Francisco said in a statement, “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.”
Private plaintiffs can bring antitrust claims in US court even if a related US government agency case is pending. The takeover, announced in January, is also subject to antitrust scrutiny in the European Union.
The FTC previously stated that it was suing to prevent “Microsoft from gaining control over a leading independent game studio.” The merger, according to the agency, would harm competition among rival gaming platforms from Nintendo Co Ltd and Sony Group Corp.