'FarmVille' creator Zynga forecasts lower-than-expected bookings

(Reuters) - “FarmVille” creator Zynga Inc forecast lower-than-expected bookings in the current quarter, as the company expects to release only one game in the period.

Player avatars from Zynga's FarmVille 2 are seen on a stairway at the entrance to Zynga headquarters in San Francisco, California April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith

The company forecast bookings in the range of $150 million-$165 million, below the average analyst estimate of $177.3 million expected by research firm FactSet StreetAccount.

Bookings are a closely watched metric, which includes the sales of virtual goods such as currency, lives, crops and food.

The company, which is trying to attract more players to its games, said it would be launching a relatively small game in the first quarter.

However, the company said it expected to release 10 new games in 2016.

Zynga, once one of Silicon Valley’s fastest-growing companies, suffered a dramatic reversal of fortunes in 2012 as gamers switched from the company’s Facebook-based desktop games to those played on mobile devices.

The mix of game launches in 2016 “has the potential to substantially change our profitability,” Zynga Chief Executive Mark Pincus told Reuters.

Zynga reported higher-than-expected bookings, an indicator of future revenue, in the fourth quarter, helped by its games based on slot machines.

Bookings were $182 million in the quarter ended Dec. 31. Analysts on average had expected $179.9 million, according to research firm Factset StreetAccount.

The company’s net loss widened to $46.9 million in the quarter from $45.1 million a year earlier.

Reporting by Anya George Tharakan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva