Activision Blizzard raises annual sales forecast on 'Call of Duty' boost

FILE PHOTO: The entrance to the Activision Blizzard Inc. campus is shown in Irvine, California, U.S., August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake

(Reuters) - Activision Blizzard Inc raised its full-year forecast for adjusted sales on Tuesday, as the pandemic-driven surge in demand for its videogames including "Call of Duty" and "Candy Crush" helped quarterly revenue exceed estimates.

The gaming industry has reaped the benefits of lockdowns keeping people indoors, with research firm NPD estimating that U.S. consumer spending on video games surged 30% to $14.92 billion in the first quarter.

The focus now shifts to whether the sector can hold onto its coronavirus-driven gains, as rising vaccinations and easing curbs prompt gamers to leave their consoles behind and head outdoors for entertainment and social interaction.

Activision Blizzard raised its full-year adjusted sales forecast to $8.60 billion from $8.45 billion, slightly above analysts' estimates of $8.55 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Its first-quarter results benefited from strength in all of the company's franchises, Chief Executive Officer Bobby Kotick said in a statement.

The company recorded a 60% jump in in-game net bookings for "Call of Duty" on console and personal computer in the period.

Activision's "Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War" was the top-selling game in March across all platforms, according to NPD.

The company's adjusted revenue for the quarter ended March 31 was $2.07 billion, beating expectations of $1.78 billion.

Quarterly net income rose to $619 million, or 79 cents per share, from $505 million, or 65 cents per share, a year earlier.

(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Aditya Soni)

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