Probably some of the major titles you'd think of when you consider the indie scene is Edmund McMillens Super Meat Boy the platformer where having over 1000 deaths before world 3 is common place. Or of course the game that took off flying and is still to really stop, Minecraft. It's become such a diverse and, i'd go as far to say very well respected scene now, that owning them is normal now. I find myself with over 80 hours on The Binding of Isaac, 60 on Plants vs Zombies, and so many more on others. But i think i'm missing my own point, Why are they so good?
Awesomenauts - check out the theme song, it's so good
I think part of that could be that, as an indie developer, you have a lot more free rein over what you do. You can experiment a lot more with what you're doing than you would if you where stuck working on a AAA title like, say, Resident Evil, which has nosedived into the worst gameplay choices imaginable(going for CoD fans? really?) Take Awesomenauts, which is set to hit PC/Steam in the not to distant future. It's a MOBA(think League of Legends) style game at heart, but so different outside of that. Sure, it has you defending towers, taking out mobs, buying upgrades, it's a platformer on top of that. Aiming and firing isn't auto either, it's all something you need to control yourself. It can easily change up the way the genre moves on depending on how well it's received(i think it did hella well on PS360, but i forget) and essentially push even more weird and exciting ideas to the genre. Yes of course we will have bad games come out of them, heck that always happens, but there are times like this particular title that things work out. Bastion brings in new ideas for story telling, through a narrator who tells everything as you progress. It means you spend more time enjoying the game, whilst listening to his fantastic voice, tell the story of Caelondia and the Kid trying to find a way to sort out the "Calamity".
Sure, you could say "oh, capcom can do this" or "Ea did that", and maybe they can or have, but the titles have either gone under the radar, or they are too afraid to do something major to their main titles with the chance that they'll lose sales. It's horrible to say that, but it's not too far off the truth. Resident Evil 6, to bring it up again, is being made with the intention of "trying to bring in fans of CoD". They want that because it means more sales, which in turn means more money. The feeling i get from that is, they don't really want to keep the fans of certain series they have now, they just want to bring in more to keep up cash income. I honestly believe that'll do them more damage with that title than anything else.
I think i've kind of only scratched the surface with it all. Indie titles are becoming more and more noticed and more of them are turning out to be good. Some more so. If i can get more titles like Bastion, Trine, Braid, Limbo, Super Meat Boy, and at such a good price, i think i'll gladly support them all when i can. i feel my money is more well spend with them too, as not only am i getting my moneys worth, i feel like i want to return to the titles time and time again. I think AAA developers/companies could learn from them, if they could only let go of their damn pride and silly notions of being the only ones that can do x, y or z. Some of their titles may just turn out to be good, real good.
Also, Indie games have the best soundtracks. Just Sayin'