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SNK: Saudi Arabia's 96% ownership "doesn't affect us in any way"

King of Fighters producer says investment from crown prince's public fund has "no effect on our creative output"

A leading SNK representative has stated the company remains unaffected after it was almost entirely acquired by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund last year.

The PIF is chaired by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman and has invested in a number of major games firms over the past few years. In April 2021, it upped its stake in King of Fighters developer SNK to 96%.

Saudi Arabia and Bin Salman currently face numerous controversies, including the country's poor human rights record, its war with Yemen, allegations that members of the Huwati tribe were forcibly removed or killed to make way for the construction of the Neom megacity project, and claims that the crown prince himself ordered the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Given the country's strict laws against homosexuality, with punishment reportedly ranging from flogging to execution, there are also concerns this could lead to content restrictions – especially around women and LGBT characters – in SNK's games.

"For us, we're just focusing on making games," SNK producer and designer Yasuyuki Oda told VideoGamesChronicle. "We're not a political company or anything like that, so it doesn't affect us in any way.

"It has no – no – effect on our creative output. We have full freedom on what we want to create."

VGC did not receive a comment from SNK's management before publication.

This year alone, the PIF has taken a 5% stake in Nintendo, a $1 billion stake in Embracer Group (via the fund's Savvy Gaming Group subsidiary), and stakes in Capcom and Nexon that also amount to a combined $1 billion.

Oda's comments echo those of Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors, who told GamesIndustry.biz back in June: "Embracer is built on the principles of freedom, inclusion, humanity and openness. The transaction with SGG will not change this in any way."

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James Batchelor

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James Batchelor has been a journalist in the games industry since 2006, joining GamesIndustry in 2016, and also runs Non-Violent Game of the Day (@NVGOTD). He does play violent games, but always on Story/Easy mode.

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