I started out in the industry at 15, back in '85. At that point, everything was indie. There were no big studios, and the few existing companies funded very little.
Moving on 20+ years (cough), I quit Microsoft Game Studios in 2009. At the point where I left, there were teams of 100+ people, no one individual had much impact on the game, communication issues both up and down and across the team due to size alone made everything exceedingly slow and frustrating.
I started a new company - Fluttermind Ltd. - which has been going a year and a half now. It's still fun, and the distance has given me an interesting perspective. This is what I see.
The mainstream indistry is filled with passionate, talented people. The average Joe thinks these games are worth $50+. From my long-time nerd perspective, that's amazing. I dreamed of this day as a kid and it's finally here.
Don't demonise 'big' game companies just because they're big. That's not punk-rock. That's not anti-establishment. That's knee-jerk foolishness. Big company games are often awesome. I can't wait for Team Ico's next release - 'big' company funded or no. I am utterly enjoying Battlefield Bad Company 2. Amazing multiplayer - some of the best experiences I've had as a gamer.
'Big' games demand a lot of assets, each of which is crafted by a professional - no 'get your mate to paint a splash screen because he's got an A-level in art' crap here. Professionals and their assets are expensive, so publishers don't like taking risks very often. But it does happen. Fable and Shadow of the Colossus are both very weird, off-beat games funded by massive conglomerates and both great games. There are not that many others, but it's the same for Hollywood. For those of you saying 'Yeah, big budget movies suck, too' - I ask you to imagine an 'indie' version of 'The Matrix'. Or 'Lord of the Rings'. They'd really suck.
Don't demonise marketing. I've never had a single marketing bod tell me what to put in a game. Ever. Full stop. Secondly, the one thing more likely to cause you a trip to the funny-farm after slogging your heart out for 2-4 years is for your marketing to suck, or - worse - to not be there at all. It will kill your game. It will kill your company. It will kill your job. The end. Saying 'good games will win through' is like saying 'positive thinking cures cancer': I'm sure there are anecdotal cases, but as people here are usually keen to point out, causation and correlation are quite different.
As for the complaint 'games include superfluous crap'. If you think EA wants to have a team keep running at a burn rate of half a million a month for an extra 3 months so some guy can make a hundred extra guns nobody cares about, you've clearly never spent a minute in a steering meeting.
While some indie games are wonderful (Dwarf Fortress and Wierd Worlds are amazing) a vast majority of them are worth 10 minutes and little more. Note I didn't say 'crap', I just said 'small'. Like a Daffy Duck cartoon. I wouldn't hold 'Duck Amuck' against 'Schindler's List' and compare the two. It is foolish.
I admire anyone's initiative and ability to craft a game themselves, on a tiny budget (yup, I'm doing precisely that), but to pretend that indie means 'better games', or 'better people' is both incorrect and insulting.