Saudi Arabia now owns 96% of SNK

king of fighters 15 release date
(Image credit: SNK)

Mohammad bin Salman is the crown prince of Saudi Arabia: the leader of a country that represses human rights, a man linked to the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, and a fan of China's Xinjiang re-education camps. He is also now, via the Electronic Gaming Development Company (EGDC), the ultimate owner of the iconic gaming developer and publisher SNK.

The EGDC first acquired a 33.3% stake in SNK in November 2020, and at the time announced it planned to buy more shares. In February this year it did so, raising its stake to an all-but-done 96%.

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SNK is probably best-known now for King of Fighters and Samurai Shodown, but is also behind the singular vision of the Neo-Geo consoles, which were brilliant machines, unavoidably aspirational, and eye-wateringly expensive. SNK and Neo-Geo meant quality above all else. The company would eventually end up in bankruptcy in the early 2000s, squeezed out of hardware and forced into various corporate shenanigans to keep the brand alive—and indeed, a bright note in recent years was that the SNK heritage, with excellent titles like the Samurai Shodown reboot, felt like it was vibrant once more.

So it's quite sad to see it all end up in the hands of Mohammed bin Salman. The EGDC bought shares worth approximately $430 million for this majority stake, and SNK is not alone in being wooed by Saudi cash: the regime has huge investments in the likes of Activision Blizzard (roughly $3 billion worth of shares), EA ($1.9 billion), Take-Two ($1 billion). One bright spot is Riot Games, which ended a partnership with the planned Saudi Arabian cross-border city of Neom after fans pointed out Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."