SNK Staying True to Japanese Roots Despite Saudi Investment, CEO Said

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SNK, the legendary Japanese video game company behind iconic fighting game franchises like The King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, and Samurai Shodown, has been making headlines lately.

In the recently concluded Game Creators Conference ‘24, SNK CEO Kenji Matsubara delivered a captivating presentation titled “What do game company presidents think?”

In this lecture (reported by gamemakers), Matsubara shed light on SNK’s vision for growth and the role of the company’s majority shareholder, the Saudi Arabian Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Saudi’s Prince Is Now 100% Owner

In the event, Matsubara revealed that the MiSK Foundation, owned by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, now holds a 100% stake in SNK.

According to him, the prince, an avid gamer himself, passionately demanded that SNK “grow as a Japanese company” and “shine brightly on the world again,” recapturing its glory days of the 1990s.

[This statement nullifies the recent rumors about SNK HQ relocating from Japan to Saudi Arabia.]

Founded in Osaka, Japan, in 1978, SNK enjoyed tremendous success in the 1990s with its iconic arcade fighting game franchises like The King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, and Samurai Shodown.

Though the company filed for bankruptcy in 2000, they managed to mount an impressive comeback in the following years.

SNK’s Plan for the Future

Matsubara wants to transform SNK into one of the world’s top ten game publishers within the next decade.

To achieve that they’re going full throttle on development, with plans to pump out title after title on an aggressive schedule over the next three years

And we’re not just talking about the revival of their classic fighters either – SNK is finally branching out into completely new genres beyond their usual arena.

Whether it’s big-budget RPGs, live-service games, or mobile hits, they’re betting the farm on expanding that iconic brand.

While SNK is well-known in Asia, its brand recognition in America and Europe is lacking.

To address this, the company is working with external partners to increase the number of game releases and venture beyond its traditional fighting game genre.

Additionally, SNK plans to establish a stronger presence in the West by opening offices in these regions.

Matsubara recognized the need for internal reforms to bridge the gap between SNK’s current state and its ambitious goals.

This includes revamping personnel and accounting systems, as well as fostering an organizational culture aligned with the company’s global aspirations through the SNK Creators Conference.

Concerns About Saudi’s Conservative Approach

Of course, Saudi investment hasn’t been free of controversy.

Given the nation’s poor track record on human rights, especially regarding women and the LGBTQ+ community, some fans have voiced concerns about SNK’s creative freedom being reined in.

Will we see more conservative character designs and storylines?

However, Matsubara assured that the situation has no effect on SNK’s creative process, citing a quote from SNK producer Yasuyuki Oda.

Recent Developments

Collaboration with ARIKA to Revive Classic Franchises.

SNK announced in March 2024 that it will revive a non-fighting game franchise from its extensive back catalog.

In line with this initiative, SNK has chosen to partner with ARIKA, the developer who previously worked on SNK’s IPs.

Among the most notable non-fighting games in SNK’s repertoire is Metal Slug, which last saw a new installment in 2008 with Metal Slug 7 on the Nintendo DS.

Partnered with GOG to Release 24 Classic Games on its Platform

Earlier this month classic games platform GOG released 24 classic SNK Games on its platforms. This includes:

  1. METAL SLUG 4
  2. THE KING OF FIGHTERS ’97 (GLOBAL MATCH)
  3. THE KING OF FIGHTERS 2003
  4. SAMURAI SHODOWN IV: AMAKUSA’S REVENGE
  5. OVER TOP
  6. NINJA MASTER’S: HAOH NINPO CHO
  7. NINJA COMMANDO
  8. SUPER SIDEKICKS
  9. SENGOKU
  10. SENGOKU 2
  11. ROBO ARMY
  12. KIZUNA ENCOUNTER: SUPER TAG BATTLE
  13. SOCCER BRAWL
  14. THE SUPER SPY
  15. TOP HUNTER: RODDY & CATHY
  16. ART OF FIGHTING 3: THE PATH OF THE WARRIOR
  17. ALPHA MISSION II
  18. MUTATION NATION
  19. CROSSED SWORDS
  20. 3 COUNT BOUT
  21. GHOST PILOTS
  22. KING OF THE MONSTERS 2: THE NEXT THING
  23. LAST RESORT
  24. MAGICIAN LORD

New Fighting Game: Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves

SNK is developing Fatal Fury: City of the Wolves, a sequel to the 1999 cult-classic fighter, Fatal Fury: Mark of the Wolves.

Slated for an early 2025 release, it will feature a mix of new and returning characters, along with fresh mechanics such as the REV System.

You can see the game demo at the upcoming EVO Japan from April 27th to 29th.


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