Grand Theft Auto V

Can the popularity of a trailer for a video game tell you whether the game will sell or not? Atul Bagga, a game analyst at Lazard Capital, thinks so.

His firm analyzed the last three years of top 60 games, and the results suggest that the number of views for launch trailers correlates with actual sales. That means that investors would do well to study those numbers when deciding whether a big game will affect a company’s stock price.

“We believe that the number of views, taken together with our checks around preorder activity, could help investors estimate sales of upcoming titles,” Bagga said. “Similarly, the correlation between likes and dislikes of the trailers and user reviews, which we believe could be a leading indicator of franchise longevity, was also very high.”

As a result, Bagga is postive about sales for Take-Two Interactive’s upcoming Grand Theft Auto V (pictured above) and mixed about Activision Blizzard’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II and World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria.

Bagga analyzed the number of views, likes and dislikes, Metascores, user review scors, and actual sales. A high number of views correlated to high sales for the top 40 games about 76.8 percent of the time.

The numbers for Black Ops II are slightly positive, with views of trailers and preorders tracking about 8 percent to 10 percent up from a year ago for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.But Mists of Pandaria views are down 50 percent compared to the earlier Cataclysm expansion, and preorders are down about 75 percent.

But Take-Two’s trailer for Grand Theft Auto V is at 23.1 million views, up from 8.1 million for Grand Theft Auto IV, which sold more than 20 million copies. This means that GTA V could sell 20 million to 25 million units and drive $1 billion to $1.25 billion in revenue and earnings per share of $2 to $3 for Take-Two.