Chuck Arellano argues that indie game developers can compete on physics.
Players are expecting higher quality artwork in their games, especially with the advances in hardware we’re seeing. Creating said artwork, however, is generally expensive, and can easily be outside of the budget of an indie. So what do you do, especially if you want to compete with much more established companies?
Compete on physics. Physics is basically an application of math. You don’t need to pay experts to create physics assets. You just code it! And with some of the libraries listed in the article, you may be able to plug-and-play. Make it realistic or make it fantastic, but with physics, your game can be innovative and fun.
I will agree with Erik that physics isn’t the only place where indies can innovate. What about sound? What about input? I think that games like Platypus show that even with graphics, there is room for growth.