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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Saudi Arabia’s PIF Has Invested $38B in Gaming

  • Savvy Games Group has already made multibillion-dollar investments in gaming companies Tencent, Activision Blizzard, and Nintendo.
  • It is the largest outside stakeholder for Nintendo (8.3%) after a new investment in February.
A gamer plays a video game.
Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund believes it can turn the country into a destination for the video game industry.

The sovereign wealth fund has invested $38 billion in the $184 billion global gaming market in recent years through its subsidiary, Savvy Games Group. What began as an esports venture has evolved into a desire to develop, publish, and acquire major video games.

“We are now more of an esports company than a games company,” Savvy CEO Brian Ward told Bloomberg News. “What we’re doing this year is focusing more on game publishing and development.”

Ward — a former executive at Electronic Arts, Activision, and Microsoft — is part of the investment, encouraged by Saudi Arabia’s growing population of gamers to lead Savvy.

Saudi Arabia’s 21 million gamers make up about 58% of the population — compared to the United States’ 66%, per Niko Partners. By 2026, the Middle East and North Africa’s gaming market is expected to grow 56% to $2.79 billion.

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Savvy has already made multibillion-dollar investments in massive gaming companies Tencent, Activision Blizzard, and Nintendo. It is the largest outside stakeholder for the latter (8.3%) after a new investment in February.

In 2022, the holding company acquired esports tournament company ESL and merged it with gaming platform Faceit in a combined $1.5 billion deal.

The PIF is invested in several sports properties — most notably, LIV Golf and Newcastle United of the Premier League.

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