Not really. Ubisoft garnered a fair bit of success with Rayman Origins after a series of sales flops - particularly remarkably as it failed on the consoles - so it shows that DRM-free from major publishers does sell and the 'emotional approach' as you put it does work for them.
It's not that the DRM-free marketing angle wouldn't work for big publishers. HB could easily have applied some pressure on the basis of their proven track record. The problem is Koch Media's old-guard management and mistaken belief that DRM actually works combined with HB's willingness to abandon its principles and dilute its brand value in order to make a quick buck.
I'm not saying that DRM free never works as a marketing tool. GOG is pretty much running only on this nowadays, and there is a market. Thanks to the benefits of digital distribution, even small markets can be monetized quite easy and cost effective. But this marketing approach will not sell you any more games when it comes to a Company of Heroes or a Saints Row. Because the target group is different.
And I wouldn't put Rayman Origins success on the DRM. It was a very well designed plattformer on a system that hasn't seen that kind of high quality game very often. I bought it on Steam (and am actually a bit pissed it doesn't use any Steamworks stuff. Not even cloud saving.) I would have bought it on uPlay, if it would have been a uPlay title (random side remark, uPlay client now acknowledges Steam uPlay games). So, for somebody like me who doesn't care about DRM free but for services, Ubisoft lost a 30% cut due to me buying it on Steam.
Anyway, you say Origins was a success because of its lack of DRM, I say it was so because it was the best plattformer the PC has seen in quite some time.
Note: "not care about DRM free" doesn't mean "not care about DRM". A lot of people haven't bought FF VII on Steam due to the third party account. I won't touch any game with Starforce or use non-publisher clients (except Steam obviously). But I also won't buy any game that just gives me an installer. (Unless I really want the game and it isn't available in any other way or buy it for "greenlight" purposes). Because I find this a ridiculous lack of service in 2013.
Seriously, does anyone have the same respect for HB that they did three years ago? Sure, people still buy there nowadays, but all they're seen as these days is as a place for cheap games. A shame, because the brand had such marketing power just a year ago. Now it's worth next to nothing.
I have, but I guess that isn't surprising ;-).
I think the "dilute" of the HB brand, if there even is one, is caused by multiple factors. The biggest, imo, being the over saturation of the indie scene. In many ways the indie scene has run its course, as 80% of current indies are just copies of more succesfull concepts. The most succesful indie bundles also had the best games, like Bastion. And the HB still differ vastly in what and whom they sell. Books still gather a higher BTA than games. Small, or "indie" pubs still also still have a higher BTA than THQ will ever have (or Deep Silver, I haven't checked, but I guess the BTA is already below 5$).
The reason HB has lost its "special status" is more because of the huge increase in bundles, weekly sales and whatnot than of the THQ bundle.
This thread continues to be the best thread of all time :D :D :D
Indeed. Although it has lost a bit of its charming insanity. Who was that guy who said from now on all bundles will be DRMed? Is he still around? He was new back then.