Savvy Games, a division of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, has acquired game studio Scopely in one of the biggest acquisitions by purchase price in the history of video games.
Savvy Games is paying $4.9 billion to acquire Scopely. There are only five gaming buyouts that are bigger, including Activision buying King for $5.9 billion, Microsoft buying ZeniMax for $8.1 billion, Tencent buying Supercell for $8.6 billion, and Take-Two buying Zynga for $12.7 billion. Microsoft is in the process of buying Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion, which would be far and away the biggest acquisition in the history of video games.
In a press release, Savvy said the deal–which is pending regulatory approval–strengthens the company’s “ability to deliver new and exciting products for the global gaming community.”
You might not know Scopely by name, but the company has worked on games in juggernaut franchises like Star Trek, The Walking Dead, and Marvel. It’s also behind the game Stumble Guys, a colorful battle royale game that is seemingly inspired by Mediatonic’s Fall Guys.
Savvy Games CEO Brian Ward, a former Activision Blizzard executive, said his company looks forward to helping Scopely accelerate its ambitions.
According to Savvy, Scopely will operate independently under the banner of Savvy and will look to extend its businesses to PC and console, in addition to continued operation in the mobile space. Scopely’s co-CEOs, Walter Driver and Javier Ferreira, will continue to lead the company.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund has been making big-time investments in the gaming space through Savvy for some time already. In addition to buying Scopely outright, Savvy holds minority ownership positions in Capcom, Nexon, EA, and Take-Two. Savvy also owns 40 million shares of Activision Blizzard and is in line for a huge payday if Microsoft’s deal to buy Activision Blizzard goes through. What’s more, Saudi Arabia owns more than 8% of Nintendo and is the Mario company’s largest outside investor.
After Savvy gave gaming giant Embracer $1 billion, the Borderlands studio owner defended the deal to take the money after people raised concerns about Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.
In 2018, US-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who criticized Saudi Arabia’s government, entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul and never left. The CIA later concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered Khashoggi to be killed.
The PIF, which is run by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is looking to grow the size of its portfolio to more than $1.07 trillion by the end of 2025, according to Markets Insider. The oil-rich kingdom is trying to create a new image for itself amid claims of its “addiction” to oil. Diversifying its portfolio for the wealth fund by way of gaming investments, the backing of the LIV Golf tournament series, and other efforts is seemingly a step toward doing that.
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