Very true, which is why I stated that the correlation did not imply causation.
If you look at the fulltime indie game developers we had back in the dexterity days 4-5 years ago that posted on the forums their pretty much the same guys who post here now. Minus a few.
Retro64, svero, goodsol, james c. smith, patrox, etc. Other then emmanuels overnight breakout success and subsequent acquisition why haven't we had any significant numbers of others that have achieved the same level of sustainability ? The thing is, in order to get that long term sustainability you need to find that place where you enjoy your work you enjoy what you create and you have enough critical mass to be profitable doing it. That takes time, it also takes an emphasis on becoming better at the craft of making games and running your own business. Once a developer hits that target, find the right combination of things that is sustainable they can start to be profitable. It's different for everyone, but I guarantee you it doesn't start with trying to make a fast buck, it has to come from something more substantial. If you are just in it for the buck you'll miss that spot where you find your sustainability. Finding that spot means you start with your emphasis on game design and development and work it ever so slightly towards profitability.
People who have done this:
Retro64 - Started with multiplayer online action games followed his retro gameplay passion to indie stardom.
Goodsol - Like shorthike, started with a game he liked and stuck with it for a very long time. Nothing says sustainability like a 10 year track record. Who knew there were so many people out there that weren't satisified with the free solitare that came with windows?
Positech - Made games he liked for fun, and a little profit, ended up making exactly what he enjoyed and ended up with enough revenue to sustain him full time.
PuppyGames - Started full time working on his dream game, burned a ton of money had poor sales. Instead of giving up or going casual he just worked his game design preferences gradually towards games that resonated with customers. Give him one or two more games and I think he will be sustainable full time doing exactly what he likes.
Blitwise Has always made games only for passion, seems people are passionate about the same things he is. He's full time supports a wife and kids, mortgage etc.
MountainKing Always does whatever he wants, the father of Raptor (one of my all time classics) as well as galactix, demonstar and others. Fulltime indie (maybe chronically so at this point)
ShortHike Back in the dexterity days when people were focusing on making 10k a month from logic games, Kai was making his 3d space station simulation. He never seemed to give a crap about conventional wisdom. He ended up liking his game so much he based his whole business around that one title and continues to support it full time today. (with 1 or two employees now I believe).
WinterWolves Took his sim games to the next level, starting with soccer manager and going on to do boxing manager and various other sim/strategy games. Now doing quite well as a full time indie making exactly what he wants.
Moonpod From day one investing in making great games they were interested in and have never looked back. Maybe not living rockstar lifestyles but they get to pursue their passion on a daily basis, hard to ask for much more.
.... see this is why I dont put names of people in the articles themselves.. people always feel left out. I'm not trying to make a complete list just some that come to mind.
Hamumu Making dumb games since 1809 and still loving it.
these are just ones i'm more personally familiar with.. there's lots more pompom, runescape, 21-6, those soldat guys.. all who do whatever they want and seem to be having financial success and sustainability doing it.
Now for the success stories for those who focused on business values from day 1
Retro64 ok ok so he's in both categories, he likes his games, they sell well on his site, they sell well on portals. Definitely found a sustainable sweetspot.
funpause (now bigfish) Created a few lackluster games then hit it big with faries and atlantis. Acquired by bigfish, now working on a game that interests him personally. Will it work out and be sustainable? who knows.. it very well might.
Sprout games though he no longer posts here, started with a business perspective from day 1 and worked his way up and was acquired by popcap. Now the creative director at popcap.
goodsol while he may classify himself in this camp, he was making downloadable games before there really was a known lucrative market or much of anything else. His focus on business and marketing has enabled his business to grow steadily over the years. I still maintain that it was his interest in solitare (based on things he's said) that got him started not the promise of big revenue streams.
The point I'm trying to make, is that there are a lot more guys who have found a way to be full time indies following their own preferences and passion for game development then there are guys who started out to create profitable game businesses.