Saudi Arabia's Savvy Games Group launches $38bn investment strategy

The Public Investment Fund-owned group's investments will be made across four programmes, each with specific objectives

Saudi Arabia recently hosted one of the world’s biggest esports events, Gamers8, in Riyadh. AFP
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Saudi Arabia's Savvy Games Group, owned by the country's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, has unveiled its new investment strategy, as the kingdom seeks to become one of the world's major gaming hubs.

The group plans to invest 142 billion riyals ($38bn) across four programmes, each with specific objectives, the Saudi Press Agency reported on Thursday.

Under the strategy, 250 games companies will be established in the kingdom, which will create 39,000 jobs, and raise the sector’s gross domestic product contribution to 50bn riyals by 2030.

The programmes include the acquisition and development of a leading game publisher to become a strategic development partner and making a series of minority stake investments in key companies that support Savvy’s game development agenda.

They also include diversified investments in industry disrupters to grow early-stage games and esports companies as well as investing in mature industry partners who add value and expertise to Savvy’s portfolio.

The strategy will be delivered by Savvy’s five independent subsidiaries devoted to different sectors.

“Savvy Games Group is one part of our ambitious strategy aiming to make Saudi Arabia the ultimate global hub for the games and esports sector by 2030,” said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who also serves as chairman of the group's board.

“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.”

Savvy Games Group was launched earlier this year, in line with the PIF’s 2021-2025 strategy to drive innovation in strategic sectors including entertainment, leisure and sports.

The group's strategy aims to drive growth by investing in the electronic games industry and esports with a unique, long-term investment horizon and long dated capital, creating more opportunities for participation and strengthening partnerships in the gaming industry, as well as improving the user experience, SPA reported.

The group also includes the first global game studio to be launched in Saudi Arabia, which, in turn, will offer a range of valuable games to global audiences, it said in a statement.

Specialist teams will focus on mid-core games and will seek to take advantage of acquisition opportunities available in the kingdom and international markets to attract games and studios under Savvy Group's umbrella.

The new strategy also includes establishing the Savvy Games Fund, which will invest in leading publishers and developers, enabling them to establish bases in the kingdom.

Collectively, the companies will create synergies across every part of the gaming and esports industry, growing the sector through targeted investments in developers and publishers, investing in technology innovation and content creator funding, as well as developing world-class event and venue concepts, the company said.

Savvy’s investments will be based on four key pillars: enhancing returns, local impact, leaving a global footprint and expanding, leading to international games investing, generating sustainable returns and enabling creators across the entire value chain.

It will accelerate talent in the kingdom and catalyse Saudi Arabia’s unique geographical location to build the dominant global hub for games and esports.

The launch of the strategy will enable and support the recently announced national gaming and esports strategy, as Savvy will invest in several local and international programmes and infrastructure to provide training, education and entrepreneurship opportunities.

It will also attract international companies to Saudi Arabia through investments and partnerships that will contribute to providing skills, knowledge transfer and building capabilities in the whole ecosystem.

Updated: September 29, 2022, 4:04 PM