Seeking to diversify its economy, still largely based on oil, Saudi Arabia has decided to take an interest in the video game industry. Savvy Gaming Group, owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund, will invest $37.8 billion in the sectoraccording to information from the kingdom’s press agency, SPA, published on September 29.
Saudi Arabia waters the video game industry
Mohammed Bin Salman, the controversial heir to the Saudi kingdom, is said to be fond of video games. Chairman of the Board of Savvy Gaming Group and the maneuvering of all major public fund investments in the country, he expressed his ambition ” aiming to make Saudi Arabia the premier global hub for the gaming and esports industry by 2030 “.
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The Crown Prince has the means to match his ambition, as this latest financial effort shows. 13.3 billion dollars will be earmarked for the acquisition of a ” leading game publisher “, 18.6 billion dollars will be used to acquire stakes in game developers and publishers and the rest will be used to acquire shares in promising companies and eSport structures.
It is precisely through eSport that Savvy Gaming Group revealed its existence to the general public. Early 2022 the company got its hands on ESL Gaming, the largest organizer of esports tournaments. He also took possession of FACEIT, an online match platform. The total amount of these redemptions is $1.5 billion.
In the past two years, Savvy Gaming Group has also bought shares of the biggest players in the industry: $3.3 billion has been invested in Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Take-Two. The kingdom also took a 5% stake in Nintendo in May and in June 2022 placed $1 billion in Swedish video game group Embracer.
The Saudi company also wants to develop the presence of video games on its own territory. SPA reports that it counts ” establish 250 gaming companies in the Kingdom, which will create 39,000 jobs and increase the sector’s contribution to GDP to 50 billion Riyals by 2030 [environ 13,31 milliards de dollars] “.
And after oil?
Mohammed Bin Salman assumes that he wants to exploit the potential ” of the esports and gaming sector to diversify our economy, drive innovation in the sector and further develop esports entertainment and competition offerings across the Kingdom “.
The Crown Prince is the mastermind of the Vision 2030 planlaunched in 2016. It aims to find a new model of economic development for Saudi Arabia, whether in terms of investment or for enhance the attractiveness of the country.
The Public Investment Fund, created on the same occasion, aims to finance the development of sectors considered strategic. Recently, and thanks to the oil manna, Saudi Arabia obtained shares in Uber for 1.5 billion dollars, in Meta for 474 million, Amazon for 432 million, Alphabet for 464 million, Microsoft for 473 million. Starbucks, Walmart, PayPal, JP Morgan received similar amounts. However, Saudi Arabia is still largely dependent on oil revenues.