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(Reuters) -French video games group Ubisoft on Tuesday predicted a rise in net bookings for its second quarter as it expands existing game franchises.
The maker of the blockbuster "Assassin's Creed" franchise expects net bookings of 340 million euros ($400.04 million) for the three months ending in September. This is up from 326 million for the last quarter, which was slightly ahead of its own guidance.
"This quarter, we continued to invest in our biggest brands and technologies with the goal of significantly expanding audience reach and recurrence," Ubisoft's co-founder and Chief Executive Yves Guillemot said in a statement.
The pandemic has boosted demand for games, increasing Ubisoft's bookings as gamers stayed home under lockdowns. But the COVID-related restrictions also slowed production across the industry, while console manufacturing was scaled back due to a shortage in electronics components sparked by the pandemic.
The company said it planned to expand its brands and bring them to a wider audience through free-to-play on consoles, PCs and mobile - including its Tom Clancy franchise and an unnamed mobile game set to launch in the quarter ending next March.
On Monday, Ubisoft announced an upcoming free-to-play game - Tom Clancy's XDefiant - after it last week postponed the release Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Extraction and Riders Republic to next October and January respectively.
It also said it had won official approval in China for three titles, including Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle and Tom Clancy's The Division 2.
"The approvals in China are good news," Midcap analyst Charles-Louis Planade said. "China is by far the biggest market in the world, any success can be a big success for Ubisoft."
($1 = 0.8499 euros)
(Reporting by Sarah Morland and Enrico Sciacovelli in Gdansk. Editing by Jane Merriman)