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Artisan opens new studio in Riyadh

The studio has been created in cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment
Artisan opens new studio in Riyadh
  • The move sees Artisan become the first developer accepted into Saudi Arabia’s Ignite Program
  • Saudi Arabia is a mobile first nation, but increasingly expanding its focus
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Canadian developer Artisan Studios, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment (MISA), will open the largest foreign-owned game development studio in the country.

The move sees Artisan become the first developer accepted into Saudi Arabia’s Ignite program, an initiative launched in 2022 to boost the creation of digital content and increase Saudi Arabia’s status as a hub for digital entertainment and media production.

Based in Riyadh, the new offices will develop the first triple-A console titles in the Gulf Cooperation Council, a union comprising of a number of countries within the MENA region including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. The new offices will have over 200 staff members.

The development falls in line with Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts to become a global hub for the gaming industry.

“Riyadh has one of the most dynamic and exciting independent game development communities,” said Artisan Studios co-founder and CEO Mario Rizzo.

“After spending the last two years exploring the region, we knew it would be the best place to build a new studio. The support we have received from the Ministry has been world-class, and they have made us feel welcome in the Kingdom. We are honoured to be the first developer invited to set up in Riyadh and look forward to building amazing new games together.”

A move from mobile?

Saudi Arabia - and the MENA region as a whole - has long been a mobile first market, with players throughout the region attracted to the platform’s accessibility and range of monetisation options. As such, the country has invested significantly into mobile gaming, including Savvy Games Group’s acquisition of gaming giant Scopely.

The country has also been a significant investor in major cross-platform and console developers such as Nintendo and Electronic Arts. While it’s clear that Saudi Arabia’s chief concern is mobile, it appears that the country is still eager to capitalise on any available growth areas, including triple-A console development.

“Saudi Arabia offers investors such as Artisan access to the fast-growing Saudi market, the largest in the region, providing an excellent platform to access regional growth opportunities across the Middle East,” said Ministry of Investments deputy of investment transactions Saleh Khabti.

“Our journey to a $2.5 billion gaming sector market size by 2030 is assisted by the IGNITE program to attract digital content companies and help grow local media and content creation sector for our young and tech savvy population.”

In July, we reported that 65% of gaming revenue in MENA comes from mobile.