Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is to buy a controlling stake in Japanese developer SNK. The agreement between the Prince and SNK says the stake will begin at 33.3% but will grow to 51% in future, giving bin Salman a controlling stake in SNK.
How did this deal between Mohammed bin Salman and SNK happen?
Reports have been circulating that bin Salman intended to purchase a controlling stake in SNK, but it's now been confirmed by the Prince's foundation website (note: link is in Arabic and we're using machine translation). According to bin Salman's website, this deal is part of his foundation's ongoing mission to "build partnerships with local and international organizations" and to "increase investment in the development of intellectual capital" both in Saudi Arabia and internationally. According to GamesIndustry.biz, Mohammed bin Salman's organization has worked before with SNK, both on the development of games and in training programs for young people.
This announcement is likely to garner a mixed response. Earlier this year, League of Legends developer Riot Games struck up a partnership with Saudi Arabian smart city project NEOM. That partnership was swiftly canceled after an outcry from many gamers and League fans citing Saudi Arabia's poor human rights record and negative attitude towards many socially progressive issues. It's hard to imagine this partnership meeting anything but a similar response given that Saudi Arabia doesn't seem interested in shifting its positions significantly anytime soon.
What does this partnership mean for SNK?
The Saudi Arabian Crown Prince's foundation hasn't made any noises to suggest it's looking to change SNK's development philosophy at all. It's not immediately clear how the Mohammed bin Salman Charity Foundation's new controlling stake in SNK will affect the company's development process. The foundation's website says this acquisition is "support" for its "strategic direction" of designing programs to empower young Saudi people in education, the arts, and digital media, among other things. We'll have to wait and see how this plays out.
What do you think about Mohammed bin Salman acquiring SNK? Let us know in the comments below!