Video gamers renew legal challenge to Microsoft’s Activision bid after setback


A group of video gamers on Monday filed a new legal challenge to Microsoft Corp’s $69 billion bid to buy “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard Inc, after a U.S. judge last month rejected an earlier version of the antitrust lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley dismissed the plaintiffs’ first complaint in March after finding it failed to present enough information to back claims the acquisition would harm industry competition.

The judge said at the time the plaintiffs could refile a new suit, which challenges the largest-ever video game industry deal. Amended lawsuits are still subject to court scrutiny and also can be dismissed.

The new 73-page lawsuit contained redacted assertions derived from Microsoft internal documents, including a strategy memo and other business reports that were “provided directly to the board of directors.” The complaint also contained information from rival Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc.

Microsoft has denied the gamers’ claims that the proposed transaction, which faces regulatory scrutiny in venues including the U.S., Europe and Japan, would curb competition.

A spokesperson for Microsoft in a statement on Tuesday said the amended complaint contained “unsupported and implausible claims about the deal’s effect on competition.” Microsoft said it will “bring more games to more people” through its proposed deal with Activision.

An attorney for the plaintiffs did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

U.S. antitrust laws allow private consumers to sue over deals apart from regulatory and enforcement agencies.

Lawyers for Microsoft said in a court filing last week that the gamers’ original case “relied largely on flawed legal arguments based on outdated Supreme Court cases.”

Microsoft’s lawyers also said the plaintiffs “waited 11 months after the transaction was announced to file their lawsuit, and then wasted several additional months filing an implausible complaint.”

The plaintiffs’ lawyers have served subpoenas on companies including Activision and rivals including Nintendo of America Inc and Sony.

Corley is scheduled to meet with the lawyers on Wednesday for a status conference.

The case is Demartini v. Microsoft Corp, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, No.3:22-cv-08991.

(Reporting by Mike Scarcella; editing by Leigh Jones)

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