The relentless rise of risk-averse policies in game publishing means that digital distribution is now the only way to market for independent developers, according to Zee-3's Ste Pickford.
Speaking exclusively to GamesIndustry.biz, development veteran Pickford said that expanding budgets and team sizes have "pretty much destroyed the business model for independent game developers" - but he believes that online distribution provides a way forward for such companies.
"For us it's not just the best way of getting a game out, it's the only way," he explained. "I think it's a great thing and I think it'll replace retail... Most of the arguments against are really from people lacking in imagination - that's the way it is because that's the way it is."
However, Pickford - who along with his brother John is the co-founder of both The Pickford Brothers, an independent game development studio, and Zee-3, a "virtual" publisher aimed at digital distribution outlets - was restrained in his praise for Microsoft's digital distribution system, Xbox Live Arcade.
"It's an exciting development," he said. "Potentially, for people like us it's brilliant, but at the moment I think the door is closed. There are very few people allowed to release games and I think it really comes down to who you know, and whether you're friends with the gatekeeper at Microsoft."
You can read the full interview with Ste Pickford, where he discusses the decision to focus entirely on indie development and self-publishing, his predictions for digital distribution and the market conditions which are killing independent studios, on the site today.