As if 2021 couldn’t get any weirder, news has emerged that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has invested over $3.3 billion in three of the world’s top video games publishers.
Yes, you read that correctly.
According to a report on Kotaku, Saudi Arabia’s reigning monarch has used the country’s Public Investment Fund to plough over $3.3 billion into Electronic Arts, Take-Two and Activision Blizzard. The report is quick to point out that while the overall sum looks impressive, the investment equates to millions of shares spread out over the three companies, but sums up to a fraction of ownership.
“What the hell?” you may reasonably ask.
Saudi Arabia’s investment in games
So why would Saudi Arabia invest this amount of money in the video games industry? Well, it could be down to increasing the prince’s investment portfolio; his MiSK Foundation, which purports to “foster, empower, and create a healthy environment for young creative talents” in Saudi Arabia is pretty diverse – it currently has money in video games, mainstream sports, esports and professional wrestling.
Maybe the oil is running out.
It’ll be interesting to see how the gaming community reacts to this, however. Last year Riot Games was forced to pull out of a deal with Saudi Arabia after a backlash within the esports community.
While crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has received a lot of positive coverage as a reformer, he has also been embroiled in some pretty nasty scandals – including, but not limited to his alleged involvement in the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.