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Video game maker Ubisoft swings to full-year operating profit on record bookings

By Gaelle Sheehan

(Reuters) - French video games group Ubisoft swung to an operating profit for its full-year to end-March, it said on Wednesday, as record bookings helped it reverse a year earlier loss of 500 million euros, its biggest ever.

Ubisoft's full-year net bookings jumped 33.5% to 2.31 billion euros, on a non-IFRS operating income of 401.5 million euros ($435.35 million).

"Our full-year 2024 results confirm that Ubisoft is back on track on its profitable growth trajectory, with record annual and fourth quarter net bookings", CEO Yves Guillemot said in a statement.

During the year, the company reported strong growth in both the "Rainbow Six" and "Assassin's Creed" franchises as well as new releases, driving bookings up and compensating for the long-delayed "Skull & Bones" game.

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"Skull & Bones", released in February, received poor review scores, among the lowest for any Ubisoft game and was not a big seller, Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter told Reuters.

Skull & Bones got off to a "slightly slower start than expected", Ubisoft CFO Frederick Duguet said during a call with journalists, adding that it still had the second-best daily playtime for a Ubisoft game.

The firm hopes to boost the game's audience and keep players engaged for longer in the first half of its financial year beginning April 1.

To address concerns from Britain's antitrust regulator regarding Microsoft's acquisition of "Call of Duty" maker Activision Blizzard, the latter agreed to sell its streaming rights to Ubisoft.

Ubisoft recognized revenue in the first three months of the year which exceeded the company's initial investment of between 50 million-100 million euros, Duguet said.

For the quarter to come, the company expects net bookings of around 275 million euros.

(This story has been corrected to remove the reference to Microsoft in paragraph 9)

(Reporting by Gaëlle Sheehan in Gdansk; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)