SNK Corporation is one of the oldest video game companies still active in Japan, standing alongside fellow Japanese powerhouse companies like Capcom and Square Enix. Originally founded in 1978 as Shin Nihon Kikaku as an arcade game developer, the studio is responsible for popular series including Metal Slug, The King of Fighters, and Fatal Fury, among others. The company also tried to get in on the console market with the Neo Geo console line, a family of systems ranging from in-home systems to handheld devices SNK produced between 1990 and 2004.
It was announced on April 5 that the company had, effectively, come under the ownership of Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman following a massive investment from Electronic Gaming Development Company, which is owned by the Mohammad bin Salman Foundation. The Verge reported the EGDC acquired 96.18 percent of SNK Corporation's stock shares, a more sizable investment than the previously announced 51 percent the MiSK Foundation spoke about in a press release.
"The Mohammed bin Salman Foundation’s (MiSK Foundation) investment in SNK continues a long-standing partnership with the Japanese company that includes previously working on joint projects in animation and video games, through MiSK’s subsidiary Manga Productions," the MiSK Foundation press release said.
The MiSK Foundation's effective takeover of SNK isn't the first major investment by Saudi Arabia into gaming, either. Capcom, Take-Two, Electronic Arts, and Activision Blizzard have all seen investments made by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund since 2020.
It also comes at a time when Saudi Arabia, and bin Salman in particular, face increased scrutiny from the international community for its history of human rights violations. Saudi Arabia's involvement in the ongoing Yemeni Civil War has led to a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, with millions starving or displaced due to continued bombing. International aid, however, has not been able to get into the country due to Saudi Arabian forces blockading all of Yemen's land, sea, and air borders.
In addition, there is the widely known case of the 2018 assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. Khashoggi, a longtime critic of the Saudi royal family, was killed and dismembered inside the consulate by a hit team on the order of bin Salman. The crown prince initially denied his involvement and accused 11 Saudis for the crime, five of whom were executed while three others were sentenced to prison. However, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency ultimately concluded bin Salman was the one who ordered the hit on Khashoggi.