Apr 5, 2023 - Economy

Saudi-backed Savvy Games to buy Scopely for $4.9 billion

Marvel Strike Force.

Marvel Strike Force. Screenshot: Scopely.

Savvy Games, owned by Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, on Wednesday said that it is buying Scopely, the California-based maker of mobile hits like Marvel Strike Force and Scrabble GO.

Why it matters: Savvy will pay $4.9 billion, making it one of the largest-ever gaming acquisitions.

  • Saudi Arabia last year said it would invest $38 billion in the gaming sector, including $13 billion earmarked for game studio acquisitions and $18 billion for minority investments.
  • Over the past 15 months, Savvy has invested $1 billion in Swedish gaming group Embracer and the sovereign wealth fund has taken— and increased— minority stakes in Nintendo, Electronic Arts, and Take Two Interactive.

Between the lines: Savvy emerged in January 2022, via Public Investment Fund's $1.5 billion purchase of two esports firms.

  • Its board is chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.
  • Savvy CEO Brian Ward last year told Axios that a big part of his mandate is to develop gaming in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and Africa, but the “scope of it more generally is global.”
  • However, it has faced accusations that it is also an effort to distract from the kingdom's human rights record.

Backstory: Scopely was founded in 2011, and raised nearly $1 billion in venture capital funding. That included a 2020 investment at a $3.4 billion valuation.

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