Saudi Arabia to invest $38 Billion in gaming; plans to become major video-game hub

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The Saudi Arabian government has proposed its plans of investing roughly $38B and shift their focus on becoming a potential hub for the video-game industry. These plans have been recommended as a forming part of further diversification of their economy. They have also confirmed setting up a dedicated video gaming studio in its capital city, Riyadh.

Savvy Games Group (SGG) received an investment of $37.8 billion (142 billion Riyal) from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment fund group earlier in 2022. SGG, is now trying to develop, publish, and acquire high-caliber AAA games in order to build a gaming business in Riyadh after originally concentrating on the esports sector.

The Chief Executive Officer of SGG, Brian Ward, said, “We are now more of an esports company than a games company. What we’re doing this year is focusing more on game publishing and development,” according to Bloomberg.

The firm has already invested billions of dollars from the investment in several gaming giants including Activision Blizzard, Tencent, and Nintendo. Ward wants to utilize these connections and expand SGG.

“We would like to use those investments to begin to work with these companies and ask how we can work together on publishing in (the Middle East and North Africa), run their esports businesses or develop new IP together,” he added.

ESL, one of the biggest esports event organizers and broadcaster, was also acquired by SGG and merged with Faceit to form the ESL Faceit Group.

Analysis by Niko Partners revealed that the country has around 21 million gamers, which is around 58% of the total population. Despite having so many gamers, the situation of gaming industry in the country is still in a developing phase.

Director of Research and Insights at Niko Partners, Daniel Ahmad said, “A skill gap remains for domestic talent in the country. Closing that gap will take time, as the country needs to introduce new policies to support education and training.”

The Saudi Esports Federation has also announced ‘Gamers Without Borders’ which is a charity tournament featuring a prize of $10 million. The event will also feature its first all-women CS: GO tournament.