Top Call of Duty esports players sue Activision for $680M in damages, alleging the publisher has an unlawful monopoly on the game’s esports scene

Members of the Call of Duty league have filed a federal lawsuit against the league’s owner Activision Blizzard seeking $680m in damages, alleging the company has an unlawful monopoly over professional esports leagues.

Originally reported by Bloomberg Law, the lawsuit was filed by Hector “H3CZ” Rodriguez, leader of Call of Duty esports team Optic, and Seth “Scump” Abner, one of Call of Duty’s best esports players. In a Los Angeles Federal court on Thursday, the pair made the case that, prior to 2019, the Call of Duty esports circuit includes leagues and tournaments hosted by multiple organisations, including GameStop and Major League Gaming, alongside Activision. But in 2019, Activision took “concerted and purposeful actions” to control the Call of Duty esports scene, in a manner that occurred without the collaboration of existing Call of Duty esports teams and players.

Describing the nature of the action, the lawsuit states: “This action arises from Activision’s unlawful 100% monopoly over—and agreements unlawfully restraining trade with respect to—professional Call of Duty leagues and tournaments. As a result of its myriad anticompetitive actions, Activision now holds an unlawful 100% monopoly over that lucrative and once vibrant market.” It adds that Activision “has used that unlawful monopoly power to prevent would-be competitors from entering the market, as well as to coerce the markets other participants…to acquiesce to extortionate financial terms.”  

The lawsuit goes on to detail severe restrictions allegedly used by Activision Blizzard to prevent Call of Duty League teams and players from participating in events outside the league. According to the lawsuit, Activision Blizzard charged teams hefty fees for competing in the CDL, with 12 teams receiving a bill for $27.5 million apiece. Moreover, teams that competed in the Call of Duty League were allegedly prevented from competing in or supporting other tournaments, and were also unable to profit from playing Call of Duty beyond the structures of the league.

Citing one example, Rodriguez claims he was forced into a “financially devastating” partnership to compete in the Call of Duty League, which involved him partnering with billionaire investors who, Bloomberg Law reports, demanded a 92.5% ownership share in his company.

In response to the lawsuit, an Activision spokesperson issued a statement, in which they said that Rodriguez and Abner “demanded that Activision pay them tens of millions of dollars to avoid this meritless litigation, and when their demands were not met, they filed.” The spokesperson added that Activision “will strongly defend against these claims, which have no basis in fact or law.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Previous post An AI-generated image of a rat with unfeasibly large genitals made it into a peer-reviewed article, along with the caption ‘dck’
Next post Tales of Kenzera: Zau creator interview — Finding the beauty of creation in grief