Lawsuit Seeks To Delay Bethesda’s $7.5 Billion Sale To Microsoft
A class-action lawsuit over alleged false advertising is reportedly seeking to stall Bethesda’s $7.5 billion sale to Microsoft. As reported by GamesBeat, in July 2019, the X-Law Group filed a lawsuit against Bethesda over the marketing of Fallout 4’s DLC Season Pass. The lawsuit seeks over $1 billion in damages.
The X-Law Group has reportedly filed discovery documents, which would block Microsoft’s purchase of Bethesda if the sales means the company will shift its assets to a new legal entity and protect itself from liability. If the class-action goes to trial, it may not be resolved until next year. Microsoft had hoped to finalize the deal with Bethesda this year.
“What we’re going to try and do is go in and ask a judge to stop the sale between Microsoft and Bethesda to preserve the assets And it’s known as a motion for preliminary injunction,” the X-Law Group told GamesBeat.
The lawsuit, which focuses on Fallout 4’s Season Pass, claims that when the pass was introduced in 2015, Bethesda advertised that those who purchased it would be entitled to “all of the Fallout 4 DLC we ever do” for $30. “Based on what we did for Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Skyrim, we know that it will be worth at least $40, and if we do more, you’ll get it all with the Season Pass,” the company said at the time.
In June 2017, however, Bethesda announced the Creation Club, described as “a collection of all-new content for both Fallout 4 and [The Elder Scrolls V:] Skyrim,” which was developed by Bethesda Games Studios and external partners. Season Pass owners were not given access to the Creation Club content and were forced to purchase it separately.
Filippo Marchino and Thomas Gray, attorneys at the class-action law firm The X-Law Group, argue that this content is DLC and Season Pass holders should not have to pay for it. “It clearly is downloadable content,” Marchino told GamesBeat. “It walks like a duck, quacks like a duck. So it is DLC. They try to slap a sticker on it and call it Creation Club content to remove it from the purview of the people that had already bought the Season Pass. But that’s artificial in nature. And it’s part of the fraud.”
The lawsuit charges Bethesda with breach of contract, unjust enrichment, deceit or fraud, fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, and tort arising out of breach of contract, among other claims. In response, the company’s counsel reportedly rejected that the Creation Club content was DLC.
The plaintiffs are seeking to recover economic losses and damages incurred, including the $281 in DLC content, as well as punitive damages, legal fees, pre- and post-judgment interest. An estimated four million players could be entitled to compensation, which would add up to $1.1 billion in damages, an amount that would be multiplied if punitive damages are awarded.
Davide Hoppe, a games industry attorney, told GamesBeat that he believed the lawsuit would be settled since neither side would want to go to trial. “I just can’t imagine a judge ordering, or even a jury, really, approving the award of billions of dollars with respect to virtual downloadable content. It seems like the easiest thing to do would be to open up the Creation Club to everyone who bought the season pass,” he said.
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