Sandsoft announces mobile game development studio in Riyadh

MENA games studio powered by talent from Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, King!

The opening of Sandsoft Riyadh, a mobile games development studio located in the center of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has been announced by Sandsoft, an innovative mobile-first game developer, publisher, and investor (KSA).

The studio is the first stage of Sandsoft’s significant investment in the Middle East and Northern Africa (MENA) gaming ecosystem. This will create over 80 exciting career opportunities in the area.

Sandsoft already has a well-established global presence and features industry titans from EA to Rovio

David Fernandez, Sandsoft’s CEO, who at King expanded the renowned Candy Crush and Bubble Witch IPs, as well as Rovio veteran and Head of Publishing Miikka Lindgren, are the driving forces behind the company.

Sandsoft Riyadh studio announced
David Fernandez, Sandsoft CEO

With hubs in Europe and a publishing division in Shanghai, China, the company already has a well-established international presence. Industry heavyweights Trip Hawkins, the founder of Electronic Arts, Kati Levoranta, the former CEO of Rovio, and Alex Dale are on its advisory board (ex-CMO, King).

Recently, Sandsoft has begun to invest significantly in new and emerging technologies as well as projects in the gaming industry, such as blockchain. Other recent investments include major IP-related mobile games like Pacific Rim: Breach Wars and Rambo: Strike Force.

Riyadh Studio will serve as a worldwide headquarter for Sandsoft and will develop local talent with Press-Start

Yahsir Qureshi, who most recently worked at EA developing FIFA’s Ultimate Team, will serve as the company’s CEO. He has more than a decade of experience working on some of the most popular AAA and free-to-play games ever released. The Riyadh studio will serve as Sandsoft’s global headquarters.

Sandsoft Riyadh studio announced,  Yahsir Qureshi,
Yahsir Qureshi, Head of Studio, Sandsoft Riyadh

Sandsoft is dedicated to developing local talent and has created Press Start. It is the first-ever paid internship program in the MENA region. The program will debut this year and target young KSA talent eager to break into the global games industry. This will enable a select group of game developers to create their games with the assistance and resources of the larger Sandsoft organization.

While maintaining their independence to choose the type of game they want to create, Press Start creators will profit from Sandsoft’s experienced game industry professionals’ advice.

Riyadh Studio’s unmatched infrastructure will give Sandsoft an upper hand to invest in the local KSA gaming industry

The largest company in the area, Ajlan & Bros Holding, owns Sandsoft, the gaming division, giving the Riyadh Studio access to unmatched infrastructure.

Sandsoft’s managing director, Mr. Abdulaziz Alajlan, said, “According to the national strategy for video games and esports that His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently unveiled as a crucial and significant step to start a new phase for this sector, following the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”

Sandsoft Riyadh studio announced, Abdulaziz Alajlan
Abdulaziz Alajlan, Managing Director, Sandsoft

He added, “Sandsoft Riyadh will help make Saudi Arabia a global gaming powerhouse. By spotting and developing MENA talent and fusing it with the best global game industry know-how, Sandsoft’s Riyadh studio will play a significant role in realizing this vision of building an international gaming dream team across development, publishing, and investment.”

Sandsoft must invest in the local KSA gaming industry because it supports Saudi Vision 2030. Saudi Vision is a government-backed program to diversify the economy and provide job opportunities for future generations. With 434 million mobile gamers who account for 15% of the global player base and a games market expected to grow by 10.8% this year, mobile gaming is a rapidly expanding industry across MENA.

What are your thoughts on the flagship development studio announced by Sandsoft in Riyadh? Let us know your opinions in the comments below!

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