December 20 (Reuters) – Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) The tech company was hit with an individual consumer lawsuit in a US court on Tuesday over its alleged $69 billion bid to buy “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard Inc. (ATVI.O) would unlawfully stifle competition in the video game industry.

The complaint The filing in federal court in California comes nearly two weeks after the U.S. Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit with an administrative law judge seeking to stop Xbox owner Microsoft from completing the largest acquisition in the video game market.

The private suit also seeks an injunction 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 “tremendous market power in the video game industry,” allowing it to “capture competitors, limit production, reduce consumer choice, raise prices and further impede competition,” the complaint said.

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

A Microsoft representative on Tuesday defended the deal, saying it would “increase competition and create more opportunities for gamers and game developers.” “We have full confidence in our case and welcome the opportunity to present our case in court,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said after the FTC filed the lawsuit.

“As the video game industry continues to grow and evolve, it is critical that we protect the market from monopolistic mergers that will harm consumers in the long run,” said Joseph Savery, an attorney for the plaintiffs in San Francisco, in a statement.

Private plaintiffs can pursue antitrust claims in US court even as the related US agency’s case continues. The takeover, announced in January, also faces antitrust scrutiny in the European Union.

The FTC previously said it was suing to stop “Microsoft’s takeover of a leading independent game studio.” The agency said the merger would hurt competition between rival gaming platforms from 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: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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