Recent large investments are pulling gaming giants towards the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, with the numbers involved totalling billions of dollars.
A little background might be useful for this topic before we continue: Back in 2017, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud took control of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Vision 2030 lists down his economic plan on how Saudi Arabia will play a part in the global gaming industry.
Prince Mohammed, who is also the Chairman of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs, mentioned in an article from the Kuwait Times that “The National Gaming and Esports Strategy is driven by the creativity and energy of our citizens and gamers, who are at the heart of the strategy. We are delivering on the ambitions of the gaming community in Saudi Arabia and around the world, with an exciting new career, and unique entertainment opportunities; aiming to make Saudi Arabia the ultimate global hub for this sector by 2030.“
Saudi Arabia’s gaming investments details
“The latest entertainment-related investment coming out of Saudi Arabia was a major transaction in the gaming industry. The Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF), the country’s sovereign wealth fund, acquired shares in the Embracer Group – a European video game distribution company – for $1bn. Under the PIF subsidiary of Savvy Gaming Group, PIF now owns 8% of the shares of Embracer.”Investment Monitor, Published: July 21, 2022
In more recent news, Saudi Arabia is pushing an investment of $37.8 billion to ensure its spot in the gaming industry. On top of this, state news also confirmed that they will be adding another $13 billion to acquire “a leading game publisher.”
The country is not just showing off in terms of its economic prowess, they are also exerting an effort to be seen in the eSports industry. A quick glance at the numbers will show that the UAE is now one of the top countries with the highest spending per capita in the eSports scene. To push their relevance, the director of strategy and business development for Abu Dhabi Gaming (AD Gaming), James Hartt mentioned “We are creating long-term, future-proof jobs on the ground in Abu Dhabi.”
How Saudi Arabia plans to take over the gaming industry
“Savvy Games Group is one part of our ambitious strategy aiming to make Saudi Arabia the ultimate global hub for the games and esports sector by 2030. We are harnessing the untapped potential across the esports and games sector to diversify our economy, drive innovation in the sector and further scale the entertainment and esports competition offerings across the Kingdom”.Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman
From what is known, The Savvy Gaming Group has already purchased esports organizations ESL and Faceit for $1.5 billion. In June, the same gaming group also invested $1 billion into Swedish gaming conglomerate The Embracer Group. Several multi-billion dollar investments were also invested into EA, Take-Two, Activision, Nintendo, and more. All of these were confirmed in an article from Axios.
All of these are likely the tip of the iceberg. Saudi Arabia is building up its 2030 Vision. As previously mentioned, “gaming is an integral part of the new entertainment sector.” With that in mind, we can expect more investments, acquisitions, and eSports involvement in Saudi Arabia in the foreseeable future.
How all of this will play out is anyone’s guess. Removing all the possible controversy in politics and cultural differences, to look at this from a purely gaming perspective and we can only hope this will open doors for more competition leading to better game titles and less generic releases in the future, though considering the political factors involved may lead to some concerns further down the road.