The Saudi Arabian government’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has reportedly acquired a five percent stake in game developer and publisher Nintendo.
The $500bn (~£403bn) fund said it purchased the stake for ‘investment purposes’, according to a filing to Japan’s Finance Ministry reported by Bloomberg.
The PIF is Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. It has purchased similar stakes in Japanese game publishers Capcom and Nexon for a combined reported $1bn (~£0.8bn). PIF also owns stakes in EA, Take-Two and SNK through its fund and its subsidiaries.
Saudi’s PIF fully owns Savvy Gaming Group, which bought ESL and FACEIT for a combined $1.5bn (~£1.1bn) in January. The group claimed that Savvy “believes in the future of competitive gaming” in an interview with Esports Insider in January.
The Nintendo stake acquisition makes PIF Nintendo’s fifth-largest shareholder, Bloomberg reported. Nintendo publishes multiple esports titles, including Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and Street Fighter.
It comes amidst an escalating wave of consolidation in the esports and gaming industries this year, through deals like Microsoft’s $68.7bn (~£50.5bn) bid for Activision Blizzard, Sony’s 3.6bn (~£2.9bn) acquisition of Bungie, and Take-Two Interactive’s $12.7bn (~£10.2bn) purchase of Zynga.
Saudi Arabia has a fraught relationship with esports. Tournament organiser BLAST and publisher Riot Games pulled out of a partnership with NEOM, a Saudi Arabian futuristic city development project, in 2020 following community backlash over the country’s human rights record.
Esports Insider says: The consolidation of the gaming industry continues, and so does PIF’s controversial streak of major acquisitions. PIF’s, and in turn Saudi Arabia’s, exposure to esports continues to intensify as it snaps up more of the esports industry — and the publishers that underpin it.