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Candy Crush creator King Digital forecasts lower bookings

Mascots dressed as characters from the mobile video game "Candy Crush Saga" pose outside the New York Stock Exchange March 26, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

(Reuters) - King Digital Entertainment Plc (KING.N) said second-quarter gross bookings fell 13 percent and forecast a further drop in the current quarter as its flagship Candy Crush Saga matures and game launches are delayed.

King Digital's shares slipped 9 percent in extended trading after the company also reported an 18 percent drop in quarterly revenue, citing fewer franchise games and a strong dollar.

The company, which makes games for social media websites and mobile devices, has been struggling to boost bookings, an indicator of future revenue, as new game launches were planned only toward the second half of the year.

The company said on Thursday it postponed its entry into a gaming segment called "mid-core" to 2016.

"Today they're setting expectations for the balance of the year and the truth is, it's not exciting," Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told Reuters.

The company launched in April its first word game, AlphaBetty Saga. The game was launched on mobile in June.

In August, King Digital launched its first simulation game, Paradise Bay.

Gross bookings fell 13 percent to $529 million in the second quarter ended June 30. Excluding the impact of the stronger dollar, gross bookings would have fallen by about 6 percent.

Still, this beat the average analyst estimate of $513.1 million, according to market research firm Factset StreetAccount.

Gross mobile bookings fell 7 percent, still contributing 81 percent of total gross bookings.

King Digital said it expects gross bookings of $460 million to $485 million in the current quarter, compared with $544 million a year earlier.

Rival Zynga Inc (ZNGA.O), known for "FarmVille" and "Mafia Wars" games, forecast current-quarter bookings well below estimates last week as the company expects to launch some games only in the fourth quarter.

The number of monthly unique users of King Digital games fell 1 percent to 340 million in the second quarter. Sequentially, the number was down 7 percent.

Net income fell to $119.3 million, or 38 cents per share, in the second quarter from $165.4 million, or 52 cents per share, a year earlier. Revenue fell 17.5 percent to $489.5 million.

On an adjusted basis, King Digital earned 49 cents per share on revenue of $500 million.

Analysts on average had expected the company to earn 43 cents per share on revenue of $490 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

(Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Don Sebastian)