Saudi Arabia purchased a major 5.01% stake in Nintendo in May 2022, in a move that many likened to ‘white washing‘ as the country reckoned with global allegations of human rights abuses. It followed investments by the country’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) in other game companies, including SNK, Take-Two, Activision, and EA. Slowly, Saudi Arabia has been increasing these stakes, recently raising its investment in
The stake was also raised in January 2023 – although the reasons remain unclear. While being a shareholder means the PIF gains the benefits of annual dividends, and
When the initial investment was first revealed,
Over the last several years, Saudi Arabia has poured billions into video game development, in an effort to support the global industry – but also allegedly as a means to ingratiate the country with modern, pop culture-focussed audiences.
‘The Saudi government has spent billions of dollars hosting major entertainment, cultural, and sporting events as a deliberate strategy to deflect from the country’s image as a pervasive human rights violator,’ Human Rights Watch alleged in 2020.
‘Bolstering reputation is big business. Public relations firms explicitly sell the promise of a better reputation, but many other business relationships, especially those involving prominent entertainers, athletes, and politicians, also offer valuable reputational benefits.’
Going forward, it’s likely the PIF will continue to expand via investments in a range of game studios, developers, publishers, and adjacent companies. Whether its stake in