May 5, 2020 / 8:06 PM / a month ago

Activision raises 2020 forecast as 'Call of Duty' gets lockdown boost

May 5 (Reuters) - Activision Blizzard Inc raised its full-year forecast after reporting quarterly results above Wall Street estimates on Tuesday, as people sheltering at home turned to playing games such as "Call of Duty" to beat the COVID-19 lockdown blues.

Videogame sales in the United States have surged in the last two months as the virus shut down the country and forced millions inside their homes, with sales in March hitting their highest in over a decade.

The company raised its 2020 adjusted revenue forecast to $6.9 billion from $6.73 billion, marginally above analysts' estimate of $6.86 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

It also forecast full-year adjusted earnings of $2.62 per share, beating estimate of $2.48.

Activision, like other gaming companies such as Electronic Arts, has a history of guiding conservatively and upgrading steadily as the year wears on, and most analysts expect them to stick with that approach.

While seeing positive opportunities for boosting performance this year, Activision flagged risks related to global economic weakness, rising unemployment, pressures on the retail channel and pricing issues, among other factors.

"We have aimed to be prudent in our guidance to account for these effects, and we believe there is potential for overperformance if these risks do not materialize," the company said in a statement.

Activision, has been pushing for user engagement on its big-budget titles by offering free content like new multi-player maps, hoping to boost in-game monetization.

"Call of Duty: Modern Warfare", the best-selling game of this year so far according to data from research firm NPD, released a free-to-play battle-royale extension "Warzone" in March, which recorded over 60 million players till date.

The company, behind popular franchises such as "Diablo" and "World of Warcraft", reported total adjusted revenue of $1.52 billion for the first quarter ended March 31. Analysts, on average, had expected revenue of $1.32 billion.

The company's quarterly net income rose to $505 million, or 65 cents per share, from $447 million, or 58 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding items, the company earned 76 cents per share. Analysts had expected 38 cents per share. (Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee and Ayanti Bera in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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