- April 6, 2023
- 4 minutes read
Saudi’s Savvy Games To Buy Mobile Games Maker Scopely For $4.9B
A big new acquisition has emerged from the gaming sector. Savvy Games Group, a gaming venture primarily backed by the…
A big new acquisition has emerged from the gaming sector. Savvy Games Group, a gaming venture primarily backed by the government of Saudi Arabia, has struck a deal to acquire Scopely, an American mobile games studio. The deal is valued at $4.9bn, a solid exit for a company that raised roughly $1bn from VCs.
Savvy Games Group is a new venture that has made several splashy acquisitions, thanks to its backing from the deep pockets of the Public Investment Fund (PIF), a $600bn+ sovereign wealth fund of the Saudi government.
- In January 2022, Savvy acquired German esports events organizer ESL Gaming in a $1bn deal and in February 2023, the venture invested $265mn in VSPO, a Chinese esports organizer. Separately, the Public Investment Fund holds billions of dollars worth of shares in global gaming companies including Activision Blizzard, Nintendo, and Embracer Group.
- Scopely represents Savvy’s biggest acquisition yet. It’s also the sixth-largest acquisition in the modern gaming industry.
Savvy Games is led by chief executive Brian Ward, a former executive at Activision. Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, serves as Chairman of the board, and another Saudi royal, Prince Faisal bin Bandar, serves as Vice Chairman.
Savvy Games previously announced plans to invest $38bn in initiatives aimed at making Saudi Arabia a global gaming hub, all earmarked for investments in other gaming companies. With a $4.9bn deal for Scopely, it’s evident that Savvy wasn’t posturing.
The Saudi Public Investment Fund is funded in part by profits from Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil giant. Aramco reported record profits of $161bn in 2022, so there’s enough to be invested in gaming companies like Scopely.
- Scopely was founded in 2011 to develop and publish mobile games. The company’s unique strategy involves partnering with popular brands to develop games based on their intellectual property, such as The Walking Dead: Road to Survival, WWE Champions, and Star Trek Fleet Command.
- Scopely has raised $1bn from VCs including The Chernin Group, New Enterprise Associates, and BlackRock. Individual investors include music executive Jimmy Iovine and filmmaker Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Scopely is headquartered in Culver City, California, with offices across the US, Asia, and the Middle East.