‘Call of Duty’ champions file $680-million antitrust lawsuit against Activision Blizzard

A CGI person in a military uniform wielding a gun while running through wreckage in a still from a video game
The popular video game “Call of Duty” is at the center of a lawsuit against Santa Monica gaming giant Activision Blizzard.
(Associated Press)

Two prominent “Call of Duty” champions have filed an antitrust lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, accusing the Santa Monica gaming giant of wielding an “unlawful monopoly” over leagues and tournaments, at gamers’ expense.

The 44-page complaint, filed Thursday by Hector “H3cz” Rodriguez and Seth “Scump” Abner, alleges that Activision Blizzard abused its monopolistic power to bar some prospective competitors from entering “Call of Duty” leagues and tournaments and coerce others into paying “extortionate” amounts to participate.

Any prospective team owners and players who were “unwilling or unable” to meet Activision Blizzard’s price of entry “were effectively frozen out of the market,” while those who did agree to the terms — including Rodriguez and Abner — suffered financially because of it, the filing claims.


Microsoft’s purchase of ‘Call of Duty’ maker Activision Blizzard marks the biggest deal in video game industry history.

Oct. 13, 2023

“As a result of its myriad anticompetitive actions, Activision now holds an unlawful 100% monopoly over that lucrative and once-vibrant market,” the complaint reads. “Absent its unlawful monopoly, Activision could never have obtained those terms, which enrich Activision at the team owners’ and players’ expense without any pro-competitive justification.”

In a statement provided to The Times on Friday, a spokesperson for Activision Blizzard said the company is “disappointed that these members of the esports community would bring this suit which is disruptive to team owners, players, fans, and partners who have invested so much time and energy into the Call of Duty League’s success.

“Mr. Rodriguez (aka OpTic H3CZ) and Mr. Abner (aka Scump) 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 statement said. “We will strongly defend against these claims, which have no basis in fact or in law.”

The Santa Monica-based “Call of Duty” game maker was sued by California’s Civil Rights Department in 2021 for alleged sexual harassment and discrimination.

Dec. 15, 2023

The lawsuit identifies Abner as the No. 2 most-winning player in professional “Call of Duty” history, with 30 major championship victories. Rodriguez is recognized as the owner of one of the most successful teams to ever play “Call of Duty,” OpTic.

Prior to 2019, the complaint states, professional “Call of Duty” leagues and tournaments were organized and hosted by a variety of companies, including GameStop, Major League Gaming and the owner of the game, Activision. During that period, the filing continues, “modest entry fees” allowed the “best players and teams” to take part in competitions and reap benefits such as prize money, sponsorships and exposure.

That all changed, the plaintiffs allege, when Activision Blizzard launched the Activision CoD League in 2019, effectively eliminating all other professional “Call of Duty” leagues and tournaments and forcing the world’s top players to abide by the company’s terms to further their careers. The lawsuit claims that at one point, Activision Blizzard required teams to each pay $27.5 million and swear not to participate in or promote any other professional “Call of Duty” operations in order to enter its league.


Abner and Rodriguez also argue that they were personally inhibited and burdened economically by Activision Blizzard’s alleged anti-competitive practices. They are seeking a jury trial and about $680 million in damages.