Saudi Arabia has spent almost $8 billion to grow its gaming industry

by Danny Craig  · 
Saudi Arabia has spent almost $8 billion to grow its gaming industry
Savvy Gaming Group

In the past year and a half, the kingdom has spent around $8 billion USD on purchasing stakes in some of gaming’s biggest companies as it attempts to expand further into the industry.

The details:

  • According to a new Financial Times report, the Saudi-backed Savvy Games Group has spent a significant amount of money on growing Saudi Arabia's gaming scene since its inception in early 2022. The Public Investment Fund (PIF) owns the company, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman serves as chairman, with the goal of transforming the kingdom into the "ultimate global hub for the games and e-sports sector" within seven years.
  • Savvy has been given a whopping $38 billion from the PIF's $650 billion fortune to accomplish its goals, which include making Saudi Arabia the home of 250 gaming companies, creating 39,000 jobs, and contributing 1% to GDP by 2030. So far, investments have been made in major industry players such as Electronic Arts, Embracer Group, Take-Two Interactive, and even Nintendo, in which it has increased its stake to become the company's largest outside investor.
  • The company has also made acquisitions, paying $4.9 billion for mobile publisher and developer Scopely in April and $1.5 billion for esports organizer ESL and all of its subsidiaries, which it then used to acquire infrastructure company Vindex. Savvy has also invested $265 million in VSPO, a Tencent-backed Chinese esports startup, giving it even more influence in the esports space.
  • Due to the country's poor history of human rights, the strong push to grow Saudi Arabia's gaming scene has been met with criticism, with some referring to the purchases as "esportswashing." Some are concerned that if the Saudi regime continues to pour billions into the industry, rising development and marketing costs will force studios to sell directly to Savvy rather than offering themselves publicly. We'll have to wait and see if this happens, as the state's purchase of English Premier League team Newcastle United has sparked similar concerns among its traditional sports rivals.

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