Saudi Arabia to invest $38bn in its games industry

Saudi Arabia to invest $38bn in its games industry

Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) is set to invest $38 billion in the games industry.

That's according to Bloomberg, which reports that the country's government wants to spend big to become a new hub for the games industry.

PIF-owned Savvy Games Group is looking to attract companies to Saudi Arabia, in particular the capital of Riyadh.

“We are now more of an esports company than a games company,” Savvy's CEO Brian Ward (pictured) said.

“What we’re doing this year is focusing more on game publishing and development.”

He continued: "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.

“Part of our mandate is to help partners and other companies come to Saudi and choose Riyadh over some other place to establish a publishing business or distribution business to serve the region."

The PIF has been expanding its games investments in recent years. The organisation bought ESL last year, in addition to holding stakes in Embracer and Nintendo.

The PIF is Saudi Arabia's attempt to wean its economy off an entirely oil-based diet. The financial instrument was a contributor to SoftBank's Vision Fund, which backed high-profile failures such as WeWork and companies with lukewarm business models such as Uber.

Savvy Games Group previously said it had earmarked billions for a push in game investment

Of course, Saudi Arabia's continuing entanglement in the games industry has many uncomfortable, not least because of the country's record on human rights but also for the role of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's alleged role in the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.  

PCGamesInsider Contributing Editor

Alex Calvin is a freelance journalist who writes about the business of games. He started out at UK trade paper MCV in 2013 and left as deputy editor over three years later. In June 2017, he joined Steel Media as the editor for new site In October 2019 he left this full-time position at the company but still contributes to the site on a daily basis. He has also written for, VGC, Games London, The Observer/Guardian and Esquire UK.