SNK Corporation, the developer of games such as Metal Slug and fatal anger, is now almost wholly owned by a subsidiary of the Saudi Crown Prince’s foundation. Electronic Gaming Development Company (EGDC), which is owned by the Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (MiSK Foundation), owns 96.18 percent of SNK’s stock, according to a Feb. 15 filing on SNK’s website (pdf).
This follows “a strategic investment” announced in November 2020, with the MiSK Foundation acquiring an “initial” 33.3 percent stake in SNK. MiSK Foundation indicated at the time that it plans to eventually take a 51 percent stake in SNK, but it appears that MiSK Foundation has decided to buy a much larger stake.
“The Mohammed bin Salman Foundation (MiSK Foundation) investment in the Japanese company SNK reinforces its continued commitment to its goals of empowering Saudi men and women by building economic partnerships, within the Foundation’s updated strategy to enhance the positive impact on youth empowerment,” MiSK Foundation said in the press release for that investment. “The investment decision will also strengthen the strong capabilities of SNK, which has many innovative intellectual properties in the gaming sector with real development potential\ [sic] going forward in line with the expected growth with the electronic game industry.”
Recently, Saudi Arabia has made some major investments in the gaming industry. Bloomberg reported in February that Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has taken more than 5 percent stakes in both Capcom and Nexon — holdings worth more than $1 billion. The PIF has also invested more than $3.3 billion to buy shares in gaming giants Activision Blizzard (which will be acquired by Microsoft in Q4 2020), EA and Take-Two. Al Jazeera reported in February 2021.
But the investments bear the weight of Saudi Arabia’s recent history of human rights abuses. Most recently, a US intelligence report concluded that Mohammed bin Salman approved plans to “capture or kill” journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was murdered and dismembered after visiting a Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Riot Games faced a wave of criticism for a sponsorship deal with the Saudi megacity Neom, ending the deal less than a day after it was announced.