Every now and then we report something that affects us personally and the gaming community as a whole. Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft’s sexual misconduct allegations are an example of this. Developers and publishers caught in the middle of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict are another. The death of a beloved member of the community definitely matters. It is by no means easy, but necessary. So, I preface this article with a disclaimer acknowledging my own personal bias resulting from anger and grief.
SNK Corporation, the video game hardware and software company behind king of fighters games, and the Neo Geo platform, are now owned by a murderer. I don’t dramatize too much. It is the absolute truth. Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s company, EGDC, bought 96% of the company. The acquisition closed in February 2022 but was only recently discovered. Previously, Electronic Gaming Development Company (EGDC) held a 33% stake in SNK.
SNK has had a problematic past, to put it mildly. Founded in 1973, SNK started out strong in coin-operated games. Their first titles, Ozma Wars and Safari Rally released in 1979 and 1980. They opened an American branch of the company in 1981 after the success of their side-scrolling shooter Vanguard. They continued their ascent for the following years. By anchoring the company to Nintendo, SNK managed to survive the video game crash of the mid-1980s. The move was great as Nintendo came out the other side with relative ease. This allows SNK to open a second North American subsidiary, responsible for the distribution and marketing of the company’s games.
SNK’s roller coaster goes up and down
In 1988, SNK refocused its efforts on creating modular cabinets for arcades. They were the ones who created the multi-video systems, which contained more than one arcade game in a single cabinet. The MVS was an immediate hit and was duplicated by other arcade cabinet companies.
Unfortunately, SNK flew too close to the sun and crashed spectacularly in 2000. Too focused on fighting games and unable to adapt to changing policies, the company’s first acquisition was made by Aruze and was unsuccessful there as well. Their US branches have closed. Capcom vs. SNK the games, while successful, saw most of the profits go to Capcom as developer and publisher. Eventually, in 2001, SNK filed for bankruptcy.
He managed to make his comeback via SNK Playmore, who bought the rights from Aruze and opted to release his new tracks via Sammy. Continuing to bounce around arcade platforms a bit in the mid-2000s, SNK finally dipped its toes into the mobile gaming arena in 2009.
Bought and redeemed
In 2015, SNK Playmore was purchased through a series of external acquisitions by Ledo, a Chinese web and mobile games subsidiary of Leyou. It changed its name again to SNK Corporation in 2016. In the following years, it focused on releasing The King of Fighters XIV and the NEOGEO mini console. Since 2019, SNK Corporation has released multiple titles on all major consoles.
In November 2020, EGDC bought a 33.3% stake in SNK, valued at $216.7 million, and said it planned to buy an additional 17.7%. This would have given EGDC a majority stake of 51%. Instead, in December 2021, an offer of more than 13 million shares, out of 14,048,218, was filed. The offer closed on February 15, 2022, with the agent listed as Samsung Securities in Seoul, Korea.
The fact that this new sort at the moment is very interesting and not a bit problematic. EGDC is a subsidiary of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation, also known as the MiSK Foundation. The MiSK Foundation is a non-profit charitable group established by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Beset with controversy, in part because of Saudi Arabia’s poor human rights record for women, activists and other minority groups, the foundation has repeatedly drawn the attention of rights groups. human rights.
In 2020, MiSK was investigated by the Saudi Kingdom after several scandals were allegedly linked to the group. The Financial Times reported that several people linked to the charity, including Salman, had targeted an ex-spy in an assassination attempt. The court case filed in the United States has not yet been resolved.
A murderer at the controls of SNK
Most notably, Salman is the man directly responsible for the brutal assassination of Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Khashoggi, a former Saudi journalist, editor and columnist for the Washington Post, fled the country in 2017 after criticizing the current rulers. As this is apparently a serious offence, he remained in self-imposed exile in the United States until October 2018.
Lured to the Saudi consulate in Turkey on the pretext that he needed to retrieve papers related to his upcoming marriage, Khashoggi disappeared inside. He was ambushed, suffocated, murdered and dismembered by 15 members of a strike team linked to Salman. The whole thing was recorded, and an extensive cover-up began soon after. The Saudi government denied it happened, or said it was accidental, as the bodies are obviously dismembering. It took pressure from world leaders before they would admit Khashoggi’s murder was premeditated.
Additionally, Salman has repeatedly maintained that he has no involvement. But he claimed he would take responsibility since the murder happened on his watch. However, recorded evidence, investigations by the CIA and other intelligence sources have concluded that Salman not only knew about the assassination, but that he ordered it. The reason behind this? “Allegedly to depose a prominent dissident and critic of the Saudi government. »
Translation: Cowardly people thought 15 to 1 was the best way to block free speech.
The trials that followed were complete and total mockery, focused on scapegoating and did not hold those who ordered it, i.e. Salman and his cronies, to any kind of accountability.
Just over a week ago, Turkish courts agreed to move the trial of 26 additional people allegedly involved in the killing of Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia. There, they will likely see the charges dismissed. Ta-da, justice is here.
Facing the crossroads
Due to Salman’s actions, and now the purchase of SNK, the gaming industry is once again at a crossroads. We haven’t done as well on the whole lately when it comes to pursuing justice and taking a unified stand against injustice. Just look at the past year and the repeated reports about developers and publishers, the horrible actions of Moon Studio, Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard, and the reactions of players and studios to see that we have a lot of work to do before that it is a safe space for all. But we are starting to make progress.
The acquisition of SNK by Salman is a direct threat to this progress. Allowing a murderer to continue doing business with today’s major gaming platforms and giving their foundation any kind of monetary gain is a slap in the face to decency and morality.