At the Game Developers Conference recently, Warren Spector made a bit of a splash by challenging the current model for game distribution. He cited publishers such as Electronic Arts as part of the problem with the current situation, but didn't blame them for the overall fault. While thanking publishers for footing the bill on the industry's biggest projects, he asserted that developers need to find new ways to market their products in order to stay creative and avoid the formulaic rut that game development often falls into. GameSpot has the complete text of the conference panel here.
We got a real problem, OK? It seems like, from my end of the game business, all our efforts are going into trying to reach a mainstream audience that may not even be interested in what we do. The idea that my next game is going to cost [intentional mumble] million dollars, compared to the first game I did, which cost $273,000, and got me into trouble as a result, is absolutely terrifying to me. You know, in order to minimize risk--how many people work for publishers that insist on focus-testing everything? And how many people actually work on games that make money?