SNK leader insists sale to Saudi Arabia ‘will have no effect on the games we make’
One of SNK’s most senior developers has raised concerns from some fans over the company’s majority sale to the Saudi Public Investment Fund, and insisted it won’t affect the content he puts in his games.
PIF, which is a sovereign wealth fund chaired by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has invested in many game developers in recent years.
This includes the purchase this year of a 5.01% stake in Nintendo (which Nintendo later claimed to have first heard about through news reports), 5% stakes in Capcom and Nexon, and billion invested in stocks for Activision Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Embracer and Take-Deux.
New Fatal Fury / Garou – trailer
Acclaimed Japanese fighting game studio SNK is unique in that it was almost fully acquired by Prince’s fund earlier this year, including ownership of IPs Fatal Fury, Metal Slug and King of Fighters.
Saudi officials have said the investments will help modernize the kingdom, but they have had negative fallout due to the country’s much-criticized human rights abuses.
Notably, the crown prince has been accused by US intelligence of ordering the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The country is also engaged in a contentious war in Yemen and has consistently cracked down on female activists and homosexuality.
The head of Saudi Arabia’s gaming investment arm dismissed such concerns as “older impressions” of the country.
Either way, his 96% investment in SNK has raised concern among many fans who don’t want to support government-owned companies, and those who fear that future SNK games will see restricted content – in particularly related to LGBT issues and women.
“For us, we only focus on making games. We’re not a political company or anything like that, so it doesn’t affect us in any way,” Yasuyuki Oda, the producer and designer of SNK’s biggest series, insisted when asked by VGC about ownership concerns. SNK.
“It has no – no – effect on our creative output. We have complete freedom over what we want to create,” he added when asked specifically if the company could add an LGBT character to its games, as Guilty Gear Strive recently did.
“Yeah I would honestly say the results speak for themselves,” Oda added via a translator. “For example, if this was a real problem, then characters like Shermie probably wouldn’t be in the game.”
Shermie is a female character in The King of Fighters series, who occasionally blows kisses before matches to her rivals.
“One thing we would say is that our owners are generally big fans of IP, and they always have been, so it’s up to us what we want to do in terms of content creation.”
SNK management did not provide additional comment for this story when approached to do so.
Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is said to be central to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s goal of making the Saudi economy less dependent on oil revenue. However, he has been accused of trying to change his reputation through the acquisition of popular brands.
In an interview with Axios in March, the CEO of PIF’s Savvy Gaming Group distanced himself from the government and argued that it had improved opportunities for women.