The country’s sovereign wealth fund invested more than $3.3 billion in gaming at the end of 2020.
Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s controversial crown prince, pressured his country to acquire stakes in three major video game publishers. Recent SEC records identified by Bloomberg show that the Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth fund, chaired by Bin Salman, bought more than $ 3.3 billion in shares of Activision-Blizzard, EA and Take-Two. This is the same fund that bought a massive $ 3.5 billion stake in Uber in 2016.
In all, it bought 14.9 million shares of Activision, 7.4 million shares of EA and 3.9 million shares of Take-Two towards the end of last year. These investments give the Public Investment Fund, or PIF, $ 1.4 billion, $ 1.1 billion and $ 826 million in equity in these companies, in an attempt to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil.
Notably, this is not the first time that Bin Salman has invested in video games – or at least tried to do that. Last year, Riot’s European League of Legends Championship (LEC) announced a partnership with Neom of Saudi Arabia, a dividing smart city project that the prince announced in 2017. Less than a day later, Riot canceled the sponsorship agreement after the launch of the LoL professional community against it in effect. That same year, Bin Salman’s MiSK youth charity bought a 33.3 percent stake in SNK, the Japanese developer of the King of Fighters and Samurai Shodown franchises, and said it planned to take over the majority ownership of the company in the future.
In 2018, the CIA implicated Bin Salman in the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Although Saudi Arabia initially denied any knowledge of the murder, Shalaan al-Shalaan, the country’s assistant attorney general, later said that the murder was ordered by the head of a “negotiating team” sent to bring Khashoggi back to the country. .