Near the end of 2022 a group of 10 gamers filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against Microsoft over its pending acquisition of Activision Blizzard King. The lawsuit sought to block the $68 billion merger, with plaintiffs stating that “Microsoft may have far-outsized market power, with the ability to foreclose rivals, limit output, reduce consumer choice, raise prices, and further inhibit competition,” if the deal were permitted to close.
That lawsuit has now been dismissed in a California court, with the judge finding that,
The Complaint does not plausibly allege the merger creates a reasonable probability of anticompetitive effects in any relevant market.
The judge also went on to remark that it would seem to make little business sense for Microsoft to withhold ABK games—Call of Duty specifically—therefor losing game sales, as seen in the excerpt below tweeted by @FOSSpatents. (Or read the full documentation here).
Judge Corley: "Why would Microsoft make Call of Duty exclusive to its platforms thus resulting in fewer games sold? What is it about the console market or PC games market and Microsoft’s position in those markets that makes it plausible … Microsoft would take such steps."
— Florian Mueller (@FOSSpatents) March 21, 2023
This is something that Microsoft itself has repeatedly stated throughout the ongoing back and forth between the Xbox maker and Sony. To that end Microsoft recently struck deals with cloud gaming platforms Boosteroid and Ubitus to retain access Call of Duty for the next 10 years. Similar deals were previously made with Nintendo and Nvidia, and was offered to Sony for its PlayStation platform.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit will have another chance to mount their case against Microsoft, and will have 20 days to do so. In addition, Microsoft still has the European Commission, the CMA and the FTC to contend with if the deal to acquire ABK is to come to fruition, with the latter mounting a lawsuit of its own to block the deal.