I feel the increased competition has also made indie games take less risks than they would before. Maybe it’s a combination of crowdfunding as well, where developers are now listening to fans instead of publishers, and that may not necessarily be any better.
I guess the best example would be Yooka-Laylee. The team at Rare made a much more innovative game (that still worked as a Banjo title) at Microsoft than they did when they went independent.
I mean, with Yooka-Laylee they did make the game they wanted to make, since it was crowdfunded and the pitch that went up is the game funders got. But you have to wonder whether they went with a throwback which rigidly follows the formula of the N64 games because that was the most sustainable, and risk averse, route, in the modern market.
The other issue to me is how we live in a truly cross-platform world now, and the only system with a substantial chunk of the market to warrant developing solely around new input devices is the PS4. So we’ve seen some interesting VR games, but everything else is made around the regular controller. It says a lot how the Wii U only got a very small handful of independent games that utilised the GamePad (and Kinect 2 of course), like Year Walk and Affordable Space Adventures compared with the Wii.
The Wii’s install base and unique control input - and relative lack of competition before PC and mobile became huge - ironically meant it saw many more unique indie games built around its controller despite the barrier to entry for indies being that much higher then Wii U. If I remember correctly developers needed their own physical office to be a WiiWare developer!