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New Lawsuit Alleges Activision Blizzard Monopolizes Call of Duty Gaming Scene

 |  February 16, 2024

Video game giant Activision Blizzard is facing a formidable challenge. The company, renowned for its blockbuster franchise “Call of Duty,” has been slapped with a lawsuit alleging antitrust violations in the lucrative realm of organized gaming.

Professional gamers Hector Rodriguez and Seth Abner have taken the gaming behemoth to task in a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles federal court. According to Reuters, the suit contends that Activision Blizzard is unlawfully monopolizing the market for Call of Duty leagues and tournaments, stifling competition and restricting opportunities for gamers.

“Call of Duty,” a first-person shooter game introduced in 2003, has become a cornerstone of the gaming industry, amassing staggering sales figures and contributing significantly to Activision’s annual revenue, the lawsuit claims. The plaintiffs argue that the company’s control over the competitive gaming scene has unfairly limited opportunities for players and organizers alike.

Read more: Microsoft Lodges Appeal Against UK Block Of $75B Call Of Duty Deal

Responding to the allegations, Activision Blizzard issued a statement vowing to vigorously defend itself against what it deems baseless claims. The company asserted that the demands made by the plaintiffs prior to the lawsuit, which reportedly amounted to “tens of millions of dollars,” were rebuffed. Activision’s acquisition by tech giant Microsoft last year for $69 billion adds a layer of complexity to the legal proceedings, as the deal remains under scrutiny by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

A pivotal moment in the timeline of this legal dispute is Activision’s acquisition of Major League Gaming for $46 million in 2016, a move that the lawsuit identifies as a turning point. Prior to 2019, the competitive Call of Duty gaming scene was described as a “vibrant, competitive product market.” However, the plaintiffs allege that Activision’s subsequent establishment of its own league signaled a deliberate effort to consolidate its control and quash competition.

The lawsuit underscores the broader implications of this legal battle, not only for the gaming community but also for the esports industry as a whole. With billions of dollars at stake and the increasing mainstream recognition of esports, the outcome of this case could reverberate throughout the gaming world.

Source: Reuters