Saudi Arabia’s Savvy Games Group, owned by the state’s sovereign wealth fund, has announced its intention to invest 142bn riyals (£32bn) in the video game industry as part of the country’s wider initiative to diversify its economy away from oil.

The highlight of this new investment package is 50 billion riyals (£12 billion) earmarked for the acquisition of “a major game publisher to become a strategic development partner”, according to the state press agency.

A further 70bn riyals (£16bn) has been earmarked for minority stakes in other companies, while the remainder will be spent targeting industry disruptors and mature industry partners to grow Savvy’s portfolio.

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“Savvy Games Group is part of our ambitious strategy that aims to make Saudi Arabia the ultimate global hub for the games and esports sector by 2030,” said Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

“We are harnessing the untapped potential in the esports and games sector to diversify our economy, drive innovation in the sector and further scale entertainment and esports competition offerings across the state.”

In June, SVG bought an £840m stake in Embracer Group, after its boss gave a statement explaining why he accepted the investment. And in May, the group bought a 5 percent stake in Nintendo.

To say Saudi Arabia’s investment in the video game industry is controversial is an understatement.

At the heart of the controversy is the state’s poor human rights record, including the criminalization of homosexuality, fewer rights for women and the use of the death penalty.

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia – and its powerful ruler Prince Mohammed bin Salman – has been blamed by US intelligence agencies for the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

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