OpTic Gaming Files $680 Million Lawsuit Against Activision, Calls Out CDL Monopoly


OpTic Gaming Files $680 Million Lawsuit Against Activision, Calls Out CDL Monopoly

Surya Kumar
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OpTic Gaming CEO H3CZ and well-known COD player Scrump filed a lawsuit against Activision on 15th February on account of their unlawful and anticompetitive practices.
Activision allegedly demanded an extortionate $27.5 million as an “entry fee” to participate in the Call of Duty League tournaments.
After details of the lawsuit gained traction on online platforms, Activision issued a statement calling it a “merciless litigation”

On 15th February, OpTic Gaming CEO Hector ‘H3CZ’ Rodriguez along with one of COD’s most popular players Seth ‘Scump’ Abner, filed a lawsuit against developer Activision, allegedly due to their monopolistic, anti-competitive, and trade-resisting practices within the Call of Duty Esports scene.

These restrictions were imposed when 12  teams joined the Call of Duty League (CDL) tournaments, where Activision demanded a massive $27.5 Million “entry fee” for the ‘privilege’ of competing. As a result, the impacted teams seek up to $680 Million in damages. Let’s jump right in and delve into the deets of this COD lawsuit.

Activision’s Unlawful Conduct Caused Economic Injuries to Optic Gaming CEO

Back in 2017, H3CZ sold the majority of OpTic Gaming to Legacy Esports and Entertainment for $20 million. Team owners were given the ability to transfer ownership without oversight and till the end of 2019, teams were allowed to freely operate in the COD market by selling their merchandise and were allowed to make contracts with broadcasters like YouTube and Twitch, and even with well-known brands like Coca Cola, Red Bull, etc. Neither the player nor the team were required to share any of these COD market revenues with Activision.

However, when Hector Rodriguez newly re-acquired his OpTic brand in September 2020, he, unfortunately, seemed to have entered the monopolized market as an individual owner of the Activision COD League team. The studio even went as far as refusing to approve him as the sole owner of the team, supposedly in an attempt to exclude him from the market. 

First reported by Bloomberg, some of the most popular players such as Seth ‘Scump’ Abner fell victim to Activision’s practices. Players like him were compelled to sign CDL contracts without sufficient time to review the documents. Allegedly, they faced threats. Implying that failure to sign immediately would result in them losing their tournament spots.

Even after Scump had retired from COD Esports, Activision reportedly used its monopoly power to prevent former players like himself from accepting other revenue opportunities related to professional Call of Duty. 

In Late 2021, the COD publisher also forced H3CZ to partner with wealthy billionaire investors from traditional sports franchises who demanded a 92.5% ownership share in his company OpTic IP LLC, which was valued at a minimum of $100 million at the time. This condition was imposed if Hector Rodriguez wanted OpTic-branded teams to participate in professional Call of Duty.

Soon after the pending COD lawsuit gained traction online,  Activision Blizzard released the following statement, calling it a “meritless litigation”. This is what they had to say:

“Mr. Rodriguez (aka OpTic H3CZ) and Mr. Abner (aka Scump) demanded that Activision Blizzard pay them tens of millions of dollars to avoid this meritless litigation, and when their demands were not met, they filed. We will strongly defend against these claims, which have no basis in fact or in law. We are 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.” 

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Surya has been an avid gamer all his life with an emphasis on single-player titles since the PlayStation 2 era. After switching to PC, he has also dabbled in the world of Valorant ever since its beta. He aims to spread his passion for gaming through his writing.

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