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Savvy Group still wants Saudi Arabia to be global hub for game development

Savvy CEO Brian Ward discusses how Saudi Arabia can greatly benefit from the company's growing presence in the game industry.

Justin Carter, Contributing Editor

January 4, 2024

2 Min Read
Logo for the Savvy Games Group conglomerate.
Image via Savvy Games Group.

At a Glance

  • Since Saudi Arabia's a "rapidly growing market," Savvy believes the region can become a vital area for video games.

Despite last year's scrapped deal with Embracer, the Savvy Games conglomerate is still eyeing Saudi Arabia as a prime spot for game development.

CEO Brian Ward told PocketGamer the Saudi-backed company is aiming for a "strong games ecosystem" by 2030. Along with development, the plan is for the region to be a "worldwide [esports] epicenter."

"Approximately 75 percent of our capital allotment has not yet been invested," said Ward, "so we will continue driving forward with our strategy."

He attributed the company's growth in 2023 in part to support from Crown Prince (and chairman) Mohammad bin Salman. Savvy has been previously critiqued for his backing via Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF).

Both Salman and the PIF were directly implicated in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's crackdown on human rights activists, and its restrictions on women's societal participations, have drawn international criticism.

Savvy is betting big on Saudi Arabia

To Ward, the "constantly evolving" game industry gives Savvy "challenges and opportunities" to grow in the years ahead.

Regarding Saudi Arabia specifically, he claimed the region has 21 million players, which comprise 70 percent of its population. Mobile esports are part of Savvy's larger plans, hence buying Scopely last year.

The free-to-play publisher was acquired specifically for its mobile expertise. Ward said it'll go for its own "long-term ambitions," which include a console version of Stumble Guys within the next year.

And because games revenue in Egypt, Saudia Arabia, and the UAE is expected to grow to $2.8 billion by 2026, Ward hopes Scopely will make Savvy a free-to-play and live-service leader in the region.

"Saudi Arabia is a fascinating and rapidly growing market," said Ward. "Our team is dedicated to being a force for good...[by] collaborating with other players and organizations to ensure the sector’s continued success."

PocketGamer's full interview with Ward on Savvy's future can be read here.

About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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