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Local gamers band together to shoot down massive technology merger

A view of the Microsoft booth at the 2019 GDC Game Developers Conference on March 20, 2019 in San Francisco, California. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A handful of Bay Area gamers and two San Francisco law firms are teaming up with the intent of powering down a massive merger between Microsoft and Activision Blizzard, the developer behind many popular video and mobile games including Candy Crush and Call of Duty.

Back in January 2022, Microsoft, tech behemoth and maker of the popular Xbox gaming console, announced it would acquire Activision Blizzard, the producer of games such as Candy Crush and World of Warcraft, for a whopping $68.7 billion. If allowed to go through, the merger would be one of the biggest tech deals ever.

Attendees gather during the 2016 Microsoft Build Developer Conference on March 30, 2016 in San Francisco, California. | Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

But today, two SF-based law firms—Joseph Saveri Law Firm and Alioto Law Firm—filed a lawsuit and preliminary injunction in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to stop the proposed acquisition. Together, the firms represent 10 video game players, most of whom are local: Four live in San Francisco, two hail from San Rafael and one is based in Oakland.

The complaint alleges that the marriage of the two companies violates antitrust legislation and would lessen competition in the video game industry.

“If Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard is allowed to proceed, the video game industry may lose substantial competition, and Microsoft may have far-outsized market power, with the ability to foreclose rivals, limit output, reduce consumer choice, raise prices, and further inhibit competition,” the suit says.  

The lawsuit comes almost two weeks after the Federal Trade Commission also filed a lawsuit against Microsoft to block the deal and a month after the Taylor Swift-Ticketmaster debacle, which has resulted in more scrutiny of entertainment industry monopolies.

“This case represents a necessary step in preserving competition in the video game industry and protecting the consumer benefits and innovations that competition brings,” said attorney Joseph Saveri of Joseph Saveri Law Firm in a statement. 

A Microsoft spokesperson told The Standard that they believe the deal will expand competition and opportunities within the gaming industry. They did not provide any specifics on how the merger would achieve those goals.

Christina Campodonico can be reached at