Shares of Activision Blizzard Inc. rose Thursday after the video game publisher posted higher-than-expected results for the fourth quarter thanks to strong game sales over the holidays.

Activision earned $174 million, or 22 cents per share, in the October-December quarter. That's down 51 percent from earnings of $354 million, or 31 cents per share, in the same period a year earlier.

Revenue slid to $1.52 billion from $1.77 billion.

On an adjusted basis, a more closely watched figure, Activision earned 79 cents per share in the latest quarter, up from 72 cents. Adjusted revenue rose 3 percent to $2.27 billion from $2.22 billion.

On that basis, analysts were expecting earnings of 73 cents per share on revenue of $2.22 billion, according to a poll by FactSet.

Adjusted figures exclude special items and account for the effects of deferring revenue and related cost of sales for games with online components. Like other video game companies, Activision spreads these out over time, while the game is played, rather than recognizing them all at once.

Sales of Activision's "Call of Duty" and "Skylanders" games fueled the quarter's results.

For the current quarter, the company expects adjusted earnings and revenue of 9 cents per share and $675 million, respectively. Analysts were expecting higher earnings of 10 cents per share on revenue of $685.4 million.

Activision's shares rose $1.38, or 8 percent, to $18.55 in after-hours trading following the release of the earnings report. The stock closed at $17.17, up 28 cents.