Zynga to buy mobile ad focused Chartboost, raises full-year bookings forecast

FILE PHOTO: The Zynga logo is pictured at the company's headquarters in San Francisco, California April 23, 2014. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

(Reuters) - Zynga Inc said on Wednesday it would buy mobile game ad network Chartboost and raised its full-year bookings forecast, counting on robust performance of titles such as "Harry Potter: Puzzles & Spells" and the expected launch of "Farmville 3".

A serial acquirer, the company will buy Chartboost for about $250 million in cash, and the deal comes over two months after the purchase of San Francisco-based game studio Echtra Games.

"As we looked at how the mobile ecosystem was evolving, we saw the opportunity to vertically integrate more into ad tech and build out our platform," Zynga Chief Executive Officer Frank Gibeau told Reuters.

In the first quarter, the company generated net bookings of $720 million, beating estimates of $686 million, according to Refinitiv data.

Mobile gaming firms across the world profited last year as restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic fueled a surge in spending. Player spending revenue on mobile gaming jumped 25% to $22.2 billion globally in the first quarter, data from analytics firm Sensor Tower showed.

Speedy vaccinations and easing of curbs that encourage people to head outdoors for entertainment and social interaction will likely weigh on gaming demand, analysts have said.

"When you look at the amount of energy and time people are putting into games, even as kids are going back to school, economies are opening up in certain countries, we are not seeing that dip in engagement," said Gibeau.

Zynga raised its full-year bookings to $2.9 billion from $2.8 billion, slightly above estimate of $2.84 billion.

The company, which is expecting to launch "Farmville 3" and "Star Wars: Hunters" this year, said it achieved record international booking in the first quarter.

(Reporting by Tiyashi Datta in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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