In a cracking post-Develop interview with GamesIndustry.biz (which you can find here), Hello Games CEO Sean Murray has outlined his opinions on the trials and tribulations of indie development and suggested that indie success is deeply dependent upon obtaining support from services such as Steam, PSN and XBLA, without which the chances of success are 'almost non-existent'.
I think without the support of at least one of those outlets, the chances of success are reduced from tiny to almost non-existent. I think that if you talked to other indie developers, they might say, we've been turned down by Steam, or XBLA or PSN. It's a really common thing to hear, but it's also often a real finishing blow for any studio. - Sean Murray, Hello Games
Murray notes that the real upshot of such support is entirely promotional, that support means visibility and that without that promotional push, the service is rather redundant. He states that 'often people are 100 per cent relying on [these services]. Not just their approval process, but with someone like Apple you are 100 per cent reliant on them promoting your game. Without that, the service is nothing. It's the same for Steam, it's the same for XBLA, PSN, being on their services is only worth the amount of promotion that you're going to be blessed with.'
There is a certain amount of power that comes with such territory, these platform holders are, as Murray acknowledges, in complete control of the scene. But the Joe Danger man believes that this is a good thing. 'I think we're certainly lucky to have them. If you look at the last generation, you couldn't make a PS2 game unless you were with a publisher and had a pretty sizeable team. There were no other options.'