In context: Nintendo has become the latest gaming company to attract investment from the government of Saudi Arabia. While this may alarm some after the country’s near-total acquisition of SNK, this is only one of Saudi Arabia’s several other gaming-related investments.
This week, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) bought five percent of Nintendo. By Bloomberg’s estimates, this makes it Nintendo’s fifth-largest shareholder. Nintendo said it only learned of the investment from news reports and declined to comment on individual shareholders.
The PIF is a $500 billion fund that is part of Saudi Arabia’s domestic economic policy. The oil-rich country wants to invest over a trillion dollars in technology and other sectors by the middle of this decade. Video game companies are part of that plan.
Last year, the PIF spent Billions on shares of Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, and Take-Two Interactive and now owns single-digit percentages of each company. On January, it acquired esports group ESL Gaming, and in February it purchased around five percent of Capcom and Nexon. Most famously, that same month the PIF took 96 percent of SNK.
Saudi Arabia may be attempting to learn from game companies to incorporate gaming into its sizable internal development ambitions. The PIF is part of the kingdom’s “Vision 2030” plan which also involves building a city-state along the Red Sea, called Neom. In February, Neom inked a deal with MBC group to build the Middle East’s first AAA game studio there.