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Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman picks up a 5% stake in Nintendo

Saudi Arabia continues its expansion into gaming markets.
This article is over 2 years old and may contain outdated information

Saudi Arabia is continuing to branch out into gaming markets in its investments, with the recent addition of one of the biggest names in gaming to its portfolio. The Public Investment Fund, chaired by Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, today picked up a 5.01% stake in Nintendo, following other recent investments in companies like Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts, according to Reuters.

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The PIF manages more than $600 billion altogether and has been a substantial arm of Saudi Arabia’s investments in gaming and entertainment companies over the last few years. Earlier this year, for example, the Electronic Gaming Development Company, another Saudi subsidiary fund run by Salman, upped their stake in fighting game company SNK to a whopping 96.18%, effectively claiming majority ownership of the company. The PIF also announced that it had created a gaming and esports group named Savvy Gaming back in January.

Saudi Arabia has claimed that many of these investments are simply attempts to diversify the country’s holdings. But several commentators, such as Kotaku’s Ian Walker, suspect that such heavy investment in gaming and entertainment is a smokescreen to distract from, or attempt to rehabilitate, the Saudi monarchy’s track record on human rights. Mohammed bin Salman himself is the de facto ruler of the country and the man allegedly responsible for the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018, among other controversies.

Though Nintendo is dealing with some controversy of its own at the moment, Salman may be hoping that its reputation for family-friendly games and “fun-focused” development could go some way to softening the perception of Saudi Arabia. Nintendo itself declined to comment and seemingly didn’t even find out about the investment until it hit the news, according to Bloomberg.

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