What’s Savvy splashing its cash on next? | Pocket Gamer.biz
Savvy Games Group was formed in 2022 with backing from the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) and the intention to put the country on the map as a gaming force.
With their recent acquisition of mobile giant Scopely for just shy of $5 billion, they have certainly proved more than able to back up this intent, sending ripples (if not waves) throughout the wider gaming world this week. Although Scopely was their biggest purchase to date, this wasn’t their first investment of course, having already spent $1 billion last year to acquire ESL/FaceIt in the eSports space as well as setting up their own subsidiary publishing businesses and studios (Savvy Game Studio and Nine66). What’s more it almost certainly will not be the last time Savvy splash the cash, with previous announcements suggesting as much as $38 billion was in the warchest to help the kingdom become a hub for the gaming industry.
So this begs the obvious question – what’s next? There’s a lot of companies looking for cash injections, and others that may be available for the right price, for both acquisition by Savvy might now be a much more tempting prospect for them in the wake of a high profile deal like Scopely’s.
Here’s where we think Savvy’s cash could be going in the near future.
The French gaming giant has been shopping around for buyers recently, does that mean this may be the next target of SGG? Well, maybe, but there have been barriers for potential investors. Concerns have been cited including the unusual management structure of the company which many feel would take too long to fix. Location is also a factor, Ubisoft is quintessentially French and tied massively to the country. Not easy to bring to Saudi Arabia itself in any form aside from remote.
This was cited as a major issue that had the company “laughed” at when proposing acquisition to numerous investors. So it may be that Savvy are in the same boat, or were one of those approached in the first place. Changing a flat management structure like Ubisoft’s would take time and money…Savvy has the latter, but would a company like Ubisoft be the quick ticket to game industry stardom they want?
What about their IP? Like Assassin’s Creed for example? It may be tied to them, but stranger things have happened, such as Square Enix divesting from major names including Deus Ex and Tomb Raider. Depending on Ubisoft’s willingness to sell and Savvy’s willingness to buy, it’s not impossible.
One of the most feasible purchases that Savvy could make would be the Angry Birds developer. Their recent tryst with Playtika ended with no deal in sight…however, Rovio did not discount the idea of an acquisition by another investor entirely. In-fact the company seems to be actively in talks with others across the gaming industry.
Rovio has a strong stable of IP, with the Angry Birds franchise stretching across books, movies and TV. At a time when the company seems to be in a bit of a slump, the kind of boost an acquisition by Savvy could give would be a boon.
Not only that, but Rovio has subsidiaries all across the world – though mainly in Europe. Could Rovio Riyadh be a new avenue for prospective game designers in Saudi Arabia?
This one’s a bit of a cheat, as it’s not necessarily a company, but a place. However, Turkiye has rapidly become the go-to market for diversification and investment. Compared to markets like China and Saudi Arabia, Turkiye straddles two markets hungry for investment. Its presence in Europe and MENA offers unparalleled access to both, meaning that there’s a great deal of cultural crossover and a shared border with two massive areas.
In just the past week we’ve seen another flurry of investments into the Turkish markets, mainly domestic. Mostly in the millions, although impressive these still may not be unlocking the full potential of the industry in Turkiye. What would an influx of something along the line of billions do to boost the mobile industry of Turkiye? We’ll have to wait and see if that’s the avenue that Savvy takes.
Acquisitions and exits are quite high in Turkiye as well. And with growing, established and young start-up studios all dotting the country, it’d definitely be an option for Savvy to get the most bang for their buck.
Playtika is a company which has had a rough start to the year. Their failed bid to acquire Rovio and the decision to halt game development until metrics improve all point to a company with its fair sure of issues. Being already in the MENA region and having a strong presence on the mobile market, they’d be a smart choice for Savvy Games Group to solidify their presence in their own home region.
Scopely’s acquisition certainly makes this seem all the more feasible, given that it was in a similar position to Playtika, making acquisitions and splashing cash as they did. The amount of money spent on Scopely may not be the same they’d offer for Playtika, but indeed if numbered even in the low billions it’d be a tempting offer for anyone to pass up…
However, Playtika certainly aren’t in dire straits, or actively looking for buyers as Ubisoft are. It’s possible that Scopely may have sated Savvy’s appetite for a similarly sized game group. With Playtika choosing to knuckle down and putting out bold new ad campaigns to build on their existing success, they may remain independent for a long while yet.
EA would indeed be the acquisition that has the biggest outside chance for Savvy Games Group. But it’s not totally unfeasible, rumour has it that EA’s always on the lookout for potential buyers, and who wouldn’t be when there’s so much money flying around nowadays?
However, early last year when just such a rumour did float around that EA was in line to be acquired by Amazon it was put down quite ruthlessly. With CEO Andrew Wilson stating he didn’t think they could be “in a stronger position as a standalone company.” Could things change this much less than a year later? Well it needn’t be immediately after Scopely, and it could be that Savvy has their eye on them, but maybe not to snap them up as is.
With the loss of the FIFA licence and the failure of games like Battlefield 2042 and the recent shuttering of Apex Legends Mobile, EA has had a bit of a rocky road recently. Similar to Playtika, it doesn’t appear they’re in danger of suffering major losses anytime soon, but it does mean that their best-laid plans are likely suffering as a result. That could make the prospect of an acquisition attractive to some.
As we’ve already noted, these are all just possibilities. It could very well be that Savvy’s next big acquisition is of someone from another area of gaming entirely. But it’s interesting to note that their acquisition of Scopely already made it onto our biggest gaming acquisitions of all time list, at this point it seems the sky’s the limit to what Savvy’s ambitions are.