Saudi Arabia’s Savvy Games Group to invest $38 billion in gaming companies

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Saudi Arabia is set to invest 142 billion riyals ($38 billion) in gaming companies through state-owned company Savvy Games Group, as part of plans by the Kingdom to develop its gaming and esports industry.

The money will be split across four programs, state press agency SPA reported on Thursday. Savvy Games will use 50 billion riyals ($13 billion) to buy and develop a leading game publisher – although SPA did not name the company that it will acquire.

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Savvy Games – which is owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – will use 70 billion riyals ($19 billion) to make investments in companies that will help grow Savvy Games. A total of 2 billion riyals ($5 million) will be invested in early-stage gaming and esports companies, and the remaining 20 billion riyals ($5 billion) in bigger businesses.

“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 said on Thursday.

The Crown Prince is also the chairman of the board of Savvy Games.

He announced earlier this month plans to develop the country’s gaming and esports industry, aiming to create 39,000 jobs and boost GDP by 50 billion riyals ($13.3 billion) by 2030.

The National Gaming and Esports Strategy will involve business incubators, new educational academies, and regulation intended to stimulate growth of the industry, the SPA cited Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as saying at the time.

Saudi gaming studios are expected to benefit from the plan, and a target has been set for the studios to produce more than 30 games in the Kingdom by 2030. A total of 20 government entities will implement and manage 86 new initiatives.

The Kingdom hopes to become one of the top three countries with the highest number of esports competitors by encouraging more Saudis to take up professional gaming.

Revenue from the global gaming industry is expected to top $200 billion in 2022, according to a review of more than 140 publicly-listed game companies by market analyst Newzoo.

The US is currently the highest spender on video games, with gaming revenues expected to reach $50.5 billion this year, according to Newzoo, and China is second with revenues of $50.2 billion.

Middle East and Africa gaming revenues are currently lower than in any other region, accounting for just four percent of worldwide spending, according to the same report.

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