Luke O'Brien takes a look at the problem for Slate and ponders why, when some of the industry's earliest blockbusters were the product of independent development (think Ultima, Doom, Dune II), independent development is the rare exception to the rule. While mainstream publishers rely on sequels and updates, certain factions (like Costikyan's Manifesto Games) are trying to bypass the system by selling their games online.
One notable omission: episodic gaming. With companies like Telltale Games and Valve actively using technology to deliver their games directly to gamers and disrupt the publisher paradigm, O'Brien's piece didn't consider the effects of these (admittedly larger) independent developers. Can independent developers use technology to assume control from the major publishers, much like the early movie industry did?