SNK Corporation, the developer of games like metal slug and fatal fury, is now almost wholly owned by a subsidiary of the Saudi crown prince’s foundation. Electronic Gaming Development Company (EGDC), owned by the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (MiSK Foundation), owns 96.18 percent of SNK’s shares, according to a February 15 filing on the SNK website (PDF).
This follows “a strategic investment” announced in November 2020, where the MiSK Foundation acquired an “initial” 33.3 percent stake in SNK. At the time, the MiSK Foundation indicated that it planned to eventually take a 51 percent stake in SNK, but it appears that the MiSK Foundation decided to purchase a much larger stake.
“The investment of the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (MiSK Foundation) in the Japanese company SNK reinforces its continued commitment to its goals of empowering Saudi men and women through the creation of economic associations, within the updated strategy of the Foundation to maximize the positive impact on the empowerment of young people”, MiSK Foundation said in the press release of that investment. “The investment decision will also enhance the strong capabilities of SNK, which has many innovative intellectual properties in the gaming sector with real potential for development. [sic] in the future in line with the anticipated growth of the electronic gaming industry.”
Recently, Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in the gaming industry. Bloomberg reported in February that the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) has acquired more than 5 percent stakes in both Capcom and Nexon, stakes that, combined, are worth more than $1 billion. The PIF also invested more than $3.3 billion to buy shares in gaming giants Activision Blizzard (scheduled to be acquired by Microsoft), EA and Take-Two in Q4 2020, al-jazeera reported in February 2021.
But the investments bear the brunt of Saudi Arabia’s recent history of human rights abuses. More recently, a US intelligence report concluded Mohammed bin Salman approved the plans to “capture or kill” the journalist Jamal Khashoggi, murdered and dismembered after visiting a Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Riot Games received a wave of criticism for a sponsorship deal with the Saudi megacity Neom and ended the deal less than a day after it was announced.