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UPDATE 1-Zynga forecasts strong bookings for 2021 on 'Harry Potter' game boost

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Ayanti Bera
·2 min read
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(Adds share movement)

By Ayanti Bera

Feb 10 (Reuters) - Zynga Inc on Wednesday forecastannual net bookings above Wall Street estimates, betting on thelaunch of its upcoming "FarmVille" game and strong in-gamespending in its existing titles such as "Harry Potter: Puzzles &Spells."

The company's shares rose nearly 3% in extended trading.

Zynga said it expects full-year net bookings - an indicatorof future revenue - to be $2.8 billion, more than the $2.75billion analysts were anticipating, according to Refinitiv IBESdata.

Its outlook includes a full-year contribution from Rollic'stitles "Toon Blast" and "Toy Blast," initial sales of "PuzzleCombat" and "FarmVille 3" set to launch in the first half of2021, and the potential release of its first "Star Wars" game bythe end of the year.

Zynga's NaturalMotion studio is also developing four newgames focused on the action-adventure category that consumerswould be able to play across platforms, Chief Executive OfficerFrank Gibeau told Reuters.

The games are expected to be published starting in late2021, he added.

Zynga depends on licensing deals with franchise owners, suchas the one with Warner Bros. Games for "Harry Potter" and WaltDisney for "Star Wars," to publish themed games and hasbolstered its position in the fast-growing mobile-gaming marketthrough a slew of acquisitions.

The company said it expects international expansion of itsfranchises to drive growth in 2021, with Europe and Asia likelyto be the primary growth markets.

Net bookings were $699 million for the fourth quarter,beating estimates of $677.2 million. Zynga mainly generatesrevenue from the sale of virtual goods, such as currency andlives, within its free-to-play games.

The "Words With Friends" publisher's average monthly activeusers more than doubled from a year earlier to 134 million aspeople spent more time online due to pandemic-inducedrestrictions.(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta and Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru;Editing by Aditya Soni)