Brian Ward (right), Photo Credit: Brian Ward

Savvy Games Group could see shift in investment away from esports, per CEO Brian Ward

Savvy has seen a massive potential for profit in mobile gaming compared to esports.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed a paraphrased comment as a direct quote from Brian Ward. Additionally, the introduction inadvertently overstated the potential impact of Savvy Game Group's decision to heighten investment into mobile gaming at the expense of esports investment. apologizes for the error.

According to an article released today on Bloomberg by Cecilia D'Anastasio and Christine Burke, Saudi Arabian esports and media conglomerate Savvy Games Group is looking to focus future investment on mobile gaming and mobile game publishing, potentially seeing a diminished focus on esports in the future, per comments given to Bloomberg by Savvy Games Group CEO Brian Ward.

The change in direction reportedly comes after Savvy Games Group-owned developer Scopely released Monopoly GO in 2023 which earned the company over $1.5 billion in profit in 2023.

This eye-watering amount came after Scopely spent an equally staggering $500m in advertising the Monopoly mobile game during its release in 2023. In Counter-Strike terms, this number is $300m more than what has been won in the entire 25-year history of Counter-Strike esports, according to Liquipedia.

To further contextualize that number, the extremely lucrative mobile gaming market, which Savvy has also invested in heavily, has generated more returns for the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund (PIF) than it cost to acquire both ESL and FACEIT for a reported $1.5b back in 2022.

Brian Ward's announcement that Savvy Game Group will be halting further large investments in esports comes after ESL FACEIT Group laid off 15% of their workforce in February 2024. At the time EFG stated the moves were made to, "support the reorganization of EFG toward its primary business goals," while also "support[ing] [EFG]'s sustainable growth ambitions and profitability."

While the layoffs, per an EFG media FAQ, were allegedly "Absolutely not" related to a loss of confidence by Savvy Game Group and PIF in esports, this pivot can be viewed in the context of the group looking to maximize profit with their $38b investment to transform Saudi Arabia into a video games hub. While esports continues to be massively popular, the industry at-large has struggled with profitability, something likely undesirable for a country looking to wean themselves off of oil dependency by 2030.

However, while Savvy may be shifting future investment away from esports, it is clearly still a massive focus for the Saudi state at large, as the $60m Esports World Cup in Riyadh is set to hold its inaugural circuit this summer. The event is in part funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund and operated by the Saudi-owned ESL FACEIT Group.

While Savvy Games Group's efforts at outwardly an effort to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy, they have also been criticized as of a larger"sportswashing" campaign by the state. Saudi Arabia has been criticized for its historic and ongoing mistreatment of the LGBTQ+ community, women, religious and ethnic minorities, among others, and its reactionary and regressive positions on human rights.

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#1(With 0 replies)
April 20, 2024 03:58PM
great now sell off your current holdings and leave entirely
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