According to a recently conducted survey, indie development was significantly more lucrative in 2011 than in years past.
A 2011 game industry salary survey run by Game Developer (via Gamasutra) reveals both individual independent game developers and indie teams in the U.S. earned quite a bit more money last year.
Individual developers brought in over twice their average earning from $11,379 in 2010, to $23,549 in 2011. Members of indie development teams also made significantly more in 2011 ($38,239), than the year prior ($26,780).
Indie games also made more money last year. 48 per cent of developers made less than $500 from the sale of their game—which sounds like a downer at first, but that's reduced from 55 per cent in 2010. On the other side of the spectrum, 16 per cent of independent developers made over $60,000 game sales in 2011, compared to just 8 per cent in 2010.
It's not the kind of money that would have most top AAA employees drooling over, but it does indicate that going independent is much more of a viable option for developers than ever before.