Embracer Group, the new owner of Tomb Raider and Deus Ex, has received a substantial cash injection courtesy of a $1bn investment from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF).
If you aren’t already aware of Embracer, it’s the Swedish holding company and ultimate owner of a huge range of more-familiar game developers, including Saber, the team behind the Halo Anniversary remaster and the recent Evil Dead game; Gearbox, maker of Borderlands; and Coffee Stain Studios, the developer of, uh, Goat Simulator. That’s right. The Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia now owns a percentage of Goat Simulator. There’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write today.
Embracer issued 100 million shares to a subdivision of the Fund named the Savvy Gaming Group, which aims to diversify Saudi’s investment portfolio through gaming and other entertainment companies. This follows Embracer’s purchase, in May, of Crystal Dynamics, Eidos Montreal, and Square Enix Montreal, the makers of Tomb Raider and Deus Ex. They now sit alongside Saints Row creator Volition and Metro series developer 4A in Embracer’s impressive catalogue of studios.
Following its investment, the Investment Fund’s Savvy Gaming Group now owns a significant 8.1% of all Embracer’s operations, making it the organisation’s second-largest owner. This follows the 5.01% stake the Fund purchased in May in Nintendo, marking its third investment into the Japanese gaming god.
Prior to that, in February, the PIF spent a collective $1bn on 5% stakes in both Resident Evil and Street Fighter developer Capcom and also Nexon, the company overseeing publication of games like Final Fantasy XIV in South Korea.
And going back even further, in December 2020, the Fund bought $3bn worth of stock across Activision-Blizzard, Electronic Arts and Grand Theft Auto’s publisher Take-Two. Outside of gaming, you might also recognise the name PIF from October 2021, when it spent £300m to purchase Newcastle United Football Club.
Embracer plans to use the PIF’s investment to continue its acquisitions of other game studios and also to expand into Saudi Arabia itself.
“Savvy Gaming Group’s investment of $1B enables us to continue executing our strategy proactively from a position of strength across the global gaming industry,” explains the company’s founder and CEO, Lars Wingefors, in a statement to shareholders. “Having visited Saudi Arabia, I have seen the gaming community and the opportunities firsthand. Our relationship with Savvy Gaming Group will enable us to set up a regional hub in Saudi Arabia, from which we will be able to make investments across the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region.”
Saudi’s investments into the gaming and other industries have however become a source of concern, owing to the country’s record of human rights abuses. The Human Rights Measurement Initiative, an annual tracker of government and state abuse run by activists and academics, rates Saudi as the second-worst country, out of the 36 measured, for quality of human rights.