Roblox forecasts strong 2024 bookings; in-game spending gets holiday boost

FILE PHOTO: A child looks back at a banner for Roblox, displayed to celebrate the company's IPO at the NYSE is seen in New York

By Harshita Mary Varghese

(Reuters) -Gaming platform Roblox forecast annual bookings above estimates on Wednesday after it crossed $1 billion in quarterly bookings for the first time on higher in-game purchases during the holiday season, sending its shares up about 7%.

In a positive sign for the gaming industry, the global video game market is anticipated to grow 2.8% this year, as it expects robust sales of Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's PlayStation 5 consoles, according to research firm NewZoo.

Roblox forecast annual bookings, generated from in-game purchases of virtual currency "Robux", between $4.14 billion and $4.28 billion, above the estimate of $4.03 billion, according to LSEG data.

"This (the results) highlights that the company’s investments are paying off and while the metaverse may not be front and center, its momentum is building behind the scenes," said Dave Mazza, chief strategy officer at Roundhill Investments, which offers a fund linked to Roblox shares.

Roblox has been seeing an uptick in spending on its online gaming platform during the holiday quarter, when players have more time because schools and colleges are closed.

Net bookings for the fourth quarter came in at $1.13 billion, hitting a new record for the company and surpassing the estimate of $1.08 billion.

Roblox said growth remained "heavily influenced by older users" above the age of 13.

"A slow and steady improvement in the core technology has allowed our developer communities to build better stuff... (which has) naturally attracted an older audience," Roblox CFO, Michael Guthrie said, underscoring Roblox's attempt at diversifying and aging up its player base.

Roblox, popular for games such as "Brookhaven", "Adopt Me!" and "Blade Ball", has partnered with a number of brands including Adidas, Lamborghini and L'Oreal, to engage fans in its 3D world.

Average daily active users rose 22%, to 71.5 million in the fourth quarter.

However, net loss in the quarter widened to $323.7 million, compared to $289.9 million a year earlier.

(Reporting by Harshita Mary Varghese; Editing by Pooja Desai)