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Saudi Arabia Spending $13 Billion on Acquiring “Leading Game Publisher”

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has announced that The Savvy Gaming Group, a gaming conglomerate funded by the Saudi Arabia government, has set aside more than $13 billion “for the acquisition and development of a leading game publisher to be a strategic development partner.” Since its establishment in January this year, Savvy has purchased esports organizations ESL and FaceIt, and made multi-billion dollar investments in multiple game studios including Activision, The Embracer Group, EA, Take-Two, and Nintendo.

The Savvy Gaming Group has been criticized for being an “image makeover project”

In addition to the $13 billion, Savvy will earmark another $18 billion for minority investments, as stated in a press release. The company says that these combined efforts will establish approximately 250 game companies and create 39,000 jobs, as part of Saudi Arabia’s “Vision 2030” plan and its intent to diversify the country’s economy.

The Savvy Gaming Group is headed by Brian Ward, who was a top executive at both Activision and Electronic Arts. Back in March in an earlier interview with Axios, Ward claimed that he wasn’t “over there on an image makeover project,” suggesting that the company was not trying to wash away anything that Saudi Arabia government has done or not done. It would be similar to the accusation of “sportswashing,” which some believe is happening in the sport of golf with the government sponsoring LIV Golf, which has lured many top professional players away from the PGA Tour by offering lucrative contracts.

Many criticize these efforts as a PR stunt by the government to look more legitimate on the world stage despite the country’s highly controversial record on human rights, the war in Yemen, and the approved assassination of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018 according to U.S. intelligence agencies. In response, Ward said that he was “not associated with the government” and that people should not rely on older impressions of Saudi Arabia.

In other news, A Plague Tale: Requiem on PS5 will support 300,000 rats on screen, and top PlayStation Stars members will get priority customer support, which has angered many fans.

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