Saudi Arabia's Savvy Games Group, owned by the country's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, has agreed to buy California-headquartered game developer and publisher Scopely for $4.9 billion.
The acquisition, which is subject to regulatory approval, strengthens Savvy’s ability to “deliver new and exciting products for the global gaming community”, the company said in a statement.
“Scopely is one of the fastest-growing games companies today, and we have long admired their ability to build loyal, engaged player communities,” said Brian Ward, chief executive of Savvy.
“Our mission is to invest in, and grow, the global games community by inviting the best minds to join us … Scopely … will continue to revolutionise the future of games for years to come.”
In September last year, Savvy unveiled its new investment strategy, as the kingdom aims to become one of the world's major gaming hubs.
Launched in January last year, the company plans to invest 142 billion Saudi riyals ($38 billion) across four programmes, each with specific objectives.
Under the strategy, 250 game companies will be established in the kingdom, which will create 39,000 jobs and raise the sector’s gross domestic product contribution to 50 billion riyals by 2030.
The gaming industry in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's biggest economy, is poised to grow 250 per cent by 2030, with e-sports leading the growth, a recent study from YouGov found.
The growth would mean that its contribution to Saudi Arabia's GDP will have surged about 50 times by 2030 compared with 2022, the London-based market research company said.
In February, Saudi Arabia’s gaming industry received new funding worth $488 million. The financing was provided by the Saudi Esports Federation, the National Development Fund and the Social Development Bank.
Gaming consumption in the kingdom is projected to hit $6.8 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual rate of 22 per cent, the Boston Consulting Group said in a recent report.
The recent acquisition brings the US company’s global footprint, development capabilities, publishing infrastructure and technology to the Savvy ecosystem.
Some of the successful games developed and published by Scopely include Star TrekTM Fleet Command, Stumble Guys, Scrabble GO, and Yahtzee With Buddies.
“We look forward to further accelerating the company’s ambitions and working together with their talented team … to create innovative and exciting new products for the gaming community across the world,” Mr Ward said.
Founded in 2011, Scopely will work as an autonomous operating company under the Savvy umbrella. It will benefit from Savvy’s financial backing to deliver on its strategy to grow, the statement said.
This acquisition will also build on Scopely’s cross-platform approach to extend its live services expertise to new segments such as personal computers, console and other genres of gameplay, it added.
“This transformational partnership is a great validation of the incredible talent of our entire Scopely team and will further accelerate our efforts to drive the games industry forward,” Scopely’s co-chief executive Walter Driver said.
JP Morgan Chase acted as lead financial adviser to Savvy on the transaction.