Prince Faisal bin Bandar: Saudi Arabia Aims to Lead Global Esports

Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, chairman of Saudi Esports Federation and the Arab eSports Federation (AFP)
Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, chairman of Saudi Esports Federation and the Arab eSports Federation (AFP)
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Prince Faisal bin Bandar: Saudi Arabia Aims to Lead Global Esports

Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, chairman of Saudi Esports Federation and the Arab eSports Federation (AFP)
Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, chairman of Saudi Esports Federation and the Arab eSports Federation (AFP)

Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, chairman of Saudi Esports Federation and the Arab eSports Federation, revealed Saudi Arabia’s ambition to develop its video game sector in an interview with AFP, affirming the Kingdom’s desire to become a global hub for video games and esports.

In 2022, the Kingdom announced a $38 billion investment strategy aimed at creating 39,000 job opportunities related to the gaming or esports sector, with the goal of these sectors representing 1% of the total GDP by 2030.

This summer, Riyadh will host the Esports World Cup, with over $60 million in prizes, aiming to attract millions of viewers.

Prince Faisal explained that video games and esports “naturally evoke” countries like Japan or South Korea, but “we want Saudi Arabia to be part of” this equation.

He sees esports as a “gateway” to much larger ambitions like building a comprehensive industry for video games.

To achieve this, the Kingdom acquired last year, for $4.9 billion, the “Scopely” studio in California, specializing in mobile games. Its game “Monopoly Go,” launched last year, generated revenues of $2 billion in just ten months.

Saudi Arabia’s recent acquisition spree in the gaming industry is just the beginning, according to Brian Ward, CEO of the Riyadh-based Savvy Games Group, a key player in the Kingdom’s national strategy for video games.

Ward, a former executive at “Call of Duty” maker Activision Blizzard, emphasized, “We don’t pause. We don’t do neutral.”

“It’s a good time to be in the market, looking for good teams in studios,” said Ward.

Ward also hopes that Savvy Games will ultimately benefit from investments in major international studios and companies such as Activision Blizzard, Nintendo, and Capcom.

The CEO said his group will find ways to establish more meaningful partnerships with the studios, going beyond mere financial returns. He also affirmed the desire to help these entities in expanding their presence in the Middle East.

Prince Faisal expressed ambitions for the Kingdom having an impact over the next ten years, not just by becoming a global hub, but also by being a regional center, which will stimulate growth in the entire region.

Besides mobile games, Saudi Arabia also aims to produce a high-budget console game by 2030.



Mbappé Wants to Erase Bad Memory of Decisive Penalty Miss

France's Kylian Mbappe waves for his fans during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Thursday, June 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
France's Kylian Mbappe waves for his fans during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Thursday, June 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
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Mbappé Wants to Erase Bad Memory of Decisive Penalty Miss

France's Kylian Mbappe waves for his fans during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Thursday, June 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
France's Kylian Mbappe waves for his fans during a training session in Paderborn, Germany, Thursday, June 13, 2024. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

The last time Kylian Mbappé kicked a ball at the European Championship, it sent France out of the competition.
He was the only player to miss in a penalty shootout against Switzerland, and France was eliminated from Euro 2020 in the round of 16 in a game where they led 3-1.
Mbappé, who received hateful abuse online following the miss, is desperate to make amends at Euro 2024 in Germany.
“It was a slap in the face when we failed at the Euro,” the 25-year-old striker said earlier this month. “It’s a big stain on my CV in the national team. I’m in a vengeful mood.”
France is in Group D, where it faces Austria on Monday, followed by the Netherlands on Friday and Poland on June 25.
Mbappé, the team captain, was missing from practice at France’s team based in Germany on Thursday but was back training with his teammates the following days, The Associated Press reported.
“He took some rest but he’s not going to lose his physical condition just because he missed one or two training sessions,” France veteran Olivier Giroud said Friday. “He still has the same legs that we all know and the determination to achieve a great competition. So don’t worry he’s going to be ready for the first match.”
Mbappé was too young to play for France when it reached the final at Euro 2016, bursting onto the scene as a teenager with Monaco the following season. At 19 he won the World Cup with France in 2018, scoring in the final. In Qatar four years later, he became only the second player after Brazil great Pelé to score a hat trick in a World Cup final, though France still lost the match on penalties to Lionel Messi’s Argentina.
“I’ve always wanted to shine for Les Bleus,” the 25-year-old Mbappé said on June 4 before a friendly against Luxembourg. “I’ve always felt this pride, this ambition to leave my mark on French soccer.”
With 47 international goals, he is third on the all-time scoring list behind Giroud (57) and Thierry Henry (51). If Mbappé remains injury free he could well pass 100 goals, a tally reached by just three men in soccer history — Messi, Ali Daei and 130-goal record holder Cristiano Ronaldo.
At club level, Mbappé recently left Paris Saint-Germain as its all-time leading scorer with 256 goals. He won the French league title six times with PSG and once with Monaco.
Although he’s never won the Champions League, or the men’s Ballon d’Or, those dreams could well be fulfilled at his new club Real Madrid over the next five seasons.
“What awaits me will be fantastic,” said Mbappé, who grew up in the Parisian suburb of Bondy. “I’m happy to have left my mark on the PSG’s history. Now there’s the Euro.”
His red-hot burning ambition with Les Bleus is to raise the European Championship trophy high above his head in Berlin in the Euro 2024 final on July 14 — France’s national day.
If Mbappé leaves Germany with a winners’ medal, he will emulate France greats Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane.
Platini scored nine goals in five games from midfield when France won the European Championship in 1984. Zidane followed up his triumph at the 1998 World Cup with even better performances for champions Les Bleus at Euro 2000.
“We haven’t won it for a long time, 24 years is a lot for a nation like ours,” Mbappé said. “The Euro is a difficult competition, more than a World Cup. All the teams know each other and the style of soccer is similar. Group stages are difficult.”