Gamer Prince Intends to Turn Saudi Arabia Into Esports Hub

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The logo of Mohammed Bin Salman's Misk foundation

What is the link between the electronic fighting game Fatal Fury and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman? The answer is that the game is developed by the Japanese company SNK, which is almost wholly owned by the Mohammed bin Salman Charitable Foundation "Misk"!

“Esports is one of the promising sectors with high growth,” Misk Foundation, November 2020.

With the spread of the Coronavirus epidemic in 2020, Saudi Arabia began to invest in the non GamStop games industry. At the end of this year, the Misk Foundation announced a $220 million acquisition of 33.3% of the shares of the Japanese developer of games like Fatal Sury.

After that, Prince Muhammad bin Salaman launched the Savi Group in 2021, which is operated by the Public Investment Fund in the Kingdom.

“The group aims to be a leader in the gaming and Esports sector.” Saudi Public Investment Fund

The fund signed an acquisition agreement with two companies, ESL Gaming, which specialises in organising electronic games, and the Ukrainian company, Face IT, which is a digital platform dedicated to hosting electronic game competitions. (Source: CNN).

One month later, Prince Mohammed bin Salman revealed his intention to invest $3 billion in three companies:

  • Activision-Blizzard
  • EA
  • Take-Two Interactive

These companies have worked on providing popular games such as Call of Duty, FIFA, and GTA.

Then, in February 2022, Prince Mohammed bin Salman deepened his bet on video games by investing in stakes of more than 5%, about $1 billion, in two Japanese game companies:

Weeks later, Saudi Arabia launched its $1 billion Ignite initiative, which aims to make Saudi Arabia a digital hub for new game development and studio building. Moreover, the kingdom also revealed its plans to set up a big-budget game studio in NEOM to produce and distribute games.

Before the disclosure of Prince Mohammed bin Salman's acquisition of 96.18% of the shares of the Japanese company SNK, it became almost wholly owned by him!

What is the secret behind the Saudi Crown Prince's interest in the non GamStop slots industry?

The short answer might be profits. Also, the Saudi prince has a personal interest in non GamStop games.

In a report published by Happy Magazine, it was stated: "Bin Salman has always talked about his love for video games and his enjoyment of playing Call of Duty, but his investments may not be due to his personal passion, but rather a strategic move to profit in the gaming sector as an alternative to the oil economy."

The gaming sector is now the most expensive and expanding entertainment industry in the world with an estimated global value of $300 billion!


The size of the Saudi gaming market reached $959 billion in 2020 and rose to $1 billion in 2021.

In 2030, it is expected to reach $6.8 billion (Source: Gulf States Institute in Washington-Arab News).

“There are 23.5 million gamers in Saudi Arabia, which is about 67% of the total population of the Kingdom.”

On the other hand, Saudi Arabia seeks to develop its "soft powers" in this field by becoming the first developer of non GamStop slots in the world. However, it is clear that cultural differences remain a barrier to this goal. Last year, Riot Games was forced to cancel sponsorship with NEOM of the LOL tournament due to Saudi Arabia's strict anti-LGBT laws (Source: The Guardian).

"Currently we can only wait and see what impact Prince's stakes will have on the non GamStop slots industry in the future."