Dec 20 (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp was hit in a U.S. court on Tuesday by a private consumer lawsuit claiming the tech company’s $69 billion bid to buy the maker of “Call of Duty” Activision Blizzard Inc (ATVI.O) will illegally squelch competition in the video game industry.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in California comes about two weeks after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit with an administrative law judge seeking to prevent Microsoft, owner of the Xbox console, from carrying out the most great acquisition ever made in the video game market. .

The private lawsuit also seeks an order preventing Microsoft from acquiring Activision. It was filed on behalf of 10 video game players in California, New Mexico and New Jersey.

The proposed acquisition would give Microsoft “far disproportionate market power in the video game industry,” the complaint alleged, “with the ability to foreclose rivals, limit production, reduce consumer choice, ‘raise prices and further impede competition’.

The Microsoft logo is seen on a smartphone placed over the Activision Blizzard logo displayed in this illustration taken January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

A Microsoft representative on Tuesday defended the deal, saying in a statement that it “will expand competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers.” After the FTC lawsuit, Microsoft Chairman Brad Smith said, “We have complete confidence in our case and welcome the opportunity to present our case in court.”

In a statement, plaintiffs’ attorney Joseph Saveri in San Francisco said, “As the video game industry continues to grow and evolve, it is critical that we protect the market from monopolistic mergers that will hurt long-term consumers.

Private plaintiffs can sue antitrust in a US court, even when a case related to a US agency is pending. The takeover, announced in January, is also subject to antitrust scrutiny in the European Union.

The FTC previously said it had filed a lawsuit to stop “Microsoft from taking control of a leading independent game studio.” The agency said the merger would hurt competition between rival games platforms Nintendo Co Ltd (7974.T) and Sony Group Corp (6758.T).

Reporting by Mike Scarcella; edited by Leigh Jones, Cynthia Osterman and Jonathan Oatis

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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