Artisan Studios opens game studio in Saudi Arabia


Artisan Studios, an independent game developer with a reputation for creating premium role-playing games, plans to open a game development studio in Saudi Arabia.

The offices in Riyadh are expected to employ over 200 people who will work on triple-A console games. The Quebec City-based company said it made history by entering into an agreement with Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment (MISA) to establish the largest foreign-owned game development studios in the kingdom.

This move solidifies Artisan’s commitment to delivering innovative gaming products to the global community while collaborating with the best talent in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The expansion of Artisan Studios aligns with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s ongoing efforts to generate high-value jobs and provide local talent with international gaming experience. By attracting leading companies in the gaming industry, the Saudi government aims to diversify the economy and create exciting new investment opportunities. Saudi Arabia, under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, is diversifying beyond oil and steel to create jobs for a modern digital economy.


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But it won’t be easy. Saudi Arabia is a stable country, but the larger Middle East still has a lot of turmoil with the current war between Gaza and Israel stirring up regional tensions.

The establishment of the new studio not only expands Artisan’s development capabilities but also marks the company’s foray into publishing its own titles. This strategic move allows Artisan to expand its global footprint and become the first independent console game developer in the MENA region. The studio also aims to collaborate with local artists from across the region to create new intellectual properties (IPs) that can be exported globally.

Mario Rizzo, CEO of Artisan Studios, at Ignite in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Saudia Arabia-based Savvy Gaming Group has taken a different approach, acquiring other game companies like Scopely ($4.9 billion deal) and ESL-FaceIt. Manga Productions is growing its own staff organically in Riyadh, with a focus on manga, anime and games.

Mario Rizzo, CEO of Artisan Studios, said in a statement, “Riyadh has one of the most dynamic and exciting independent game development communities. 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 honored to be the first developer invited to set up in Riyadh and look forward to building amazing new games together.”

Artisan Studios has a notable track record in the RPG genre, having partnered with esteemed companies such as Idea Factory, Compile Heart, and Dear Villagers to create titles like Super Neptunia RPG and Astria Ascending. Currently, the studio is working on an unannounced RPG title for PC and console platforms.

Saleh Khabti, deputy of investment transactions at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Investment, said in a statement, “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. Our journey to USD 2.5 Bn 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.”

Artisan Studios is the first game developer accepted into Saudi Arabia’s Ignite program. Launched in 2022, the initiative aims to propel the growth of digital content and position Saudi Arabia as a leading hub for digital entertainment and media production.

The Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA) plays a crucial role in facilitating access to the kingdom’s transformative opportunities under the Vision 2030 plan. MISA develops a cross-government investment ecosystem and supports businesses throughout their investment journey.

By partnering with local and international businesses, MISA simplifies the investment process and enhances the overall business environment in Saudi Arabia. Through market intelligence studies and the development of local joint venture opportunities, MISA fosters a conducive environment for investment and economic growth.

Founded in 2016 by a small team in Paris, France, Artisan Studios relocated to Quebec City, Canada, in August 2016 with the support of the city and the federal government. With studios now established in Québec (Canada), Montpellier (France) and London.

Nine66, A Savvy Games Group Company, wholly owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), acted as a local advisor to Artisan in this landmark transaction.

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