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Zynga cuts 2014 forecast, delays various gaming titles

By Malathi Nayak

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Zynga Inc on Thursday reported unexpectedly weaker second-quarter bookings, and slashed its 2014 forecast after saying it had delayed several games including a revamped version of "Zynga Poker."

Shares in the San Francisco-based mobile gaming company, known for the "FarmVille" game, were down 9 percent in after-hours trading on the Nasdaq after ending Thursday's session up 13 cents at $2.92.

In an interview with Reuters, Zynga Chief Executive Officer Don Mattrick said the company had examined its new product pipeline and "decided that the best choice for the medium and the long term was to move that revenue effectively from 2014 to 2015."

"Moving revenue is on one hand is clearly discouraging ....but we are being consistent against our lens of medium- to long-term choices for the benefit of customers and shareholders," Mattrick said.

Other delayed titles included "Words with Friends" and mobile games from Natural Motion, a studio it acquired for $527 million in January.

Zynga, however, announced it had entered into a licensing deal with the National Football League to release a mobile football game called "NFL Showdown" in select countries. It will be its first sports gaming title.

Zynga also said it now expects 2014 bookings, or deferred revenue, in the range of $695 million to $725 million, compared with its previously announced forecast of $770 million to $810 million. Analysts had expected $801 million in deferred revenue in the second quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Zynga's number of active monthly players dropped to 130 million in the second quarter, from 187 million in the year-earlier period.

Since taking on the top leadership role at Zynga last July, Mattrick has set in motion efforts to expand the company's mobile game offerings as sales from its Web offerings on Facebook deteriorated last year.

The company also said on Thursday it has partnered with golf star Tiger Woods to release a new mobile game, which is in development, in 2015. Moreover, through a partnership with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Zynga will bring gamers a mobile game based on the popular cartoon show "Looney Tunes" before the holiday season.

Zynga executives told analysts on an earnings call that its current efforts would gradually take hold and that mobile bookings surpassed Web bookings for the first time in the second quarter.

"The majority of benefit is going to come in 2015," Mattrick told Reuters.

(Reporting by Malathi Nayak; Editing by Paul Simao and Lisa Shumaker)

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