Indie news seems to be all around the ‘net lately. There’s Coyote’s blog posts, Mark Morris on bit-tech about staying independent, an interview with Jeff Vogel on gamebanshee, more reviews (finally) of Eschalon, etc. So unless all this is just because of the post-holiday lull, it looks like better times for indie games, right? Maybe. Maybe not.

A slightly ominous note was struck over at Wired, where Clive Thompson has dropped his “best of indie games” yearly feature. Why? Because there are just too many indie games popping up. Too many to keep track of and play.

That’s probably not going to change anytime soon. As more tools become available, not to mention the ever-present Flash, more people will likely try their hands at game design.

So the wheel has come full circle, and the cup brims anew. At “the dawn”, pretty much all companies were small independents, operating on tiny budgets and hope. Some grew up and became famous. SSI. Interplay. New World Computing. Origin. Sir-Tech. Bethesda. Broderbund. To name a few.

But behind them was a large crowd of others. Others who withered and died in obscurity. How many of the following are at all familiar to you?

Microlab. Ibid Inc. Phoenix Software. Jor-And. Med Systems Software. CE Software. Turnkey Software. Crystal Computer. Quality Software. Sentient Software. Saber Software. Mind Games Inc. The Logical Choice. Highlands Computers Inc. Hayden Software. Ultrasoft Inc. Continental Software. Riverbank Software. Cavalier Computer. The Programmers Guild.

And there were plenty more. That’s a sampling of companies producing games for the Apple. Add in the ones who designed for the Atari and C-64, and you have quite a list of the unmourned departed.

Many contenders, few survivors. That, I think, is what is going to happen eventually with the current crop of indies. Too many choices can be just as bad as not enough.

Of course, we’re in a different arena now. The Internet makes it much easier to dispense games via digital download. Companies don’t have to depend on just magazine ads, or any ads at all. They can put up their own sites with as much information as they want.

However, these days main game coverage comes primarily from the big game sites, who aren’t known for giving much space to indie products of any kind. And therein lies the seed for survival.

Those companies which know how to work the ‘net, the viral marketing, the hype, the buzz, the PR, will come out on top. The rest will linger awhile and disappear, regardless of how good their products may be.

So yeah, on the one hand, it may be good that there are more indies coming on board. On the other hand, not many are likely to stay around. It’s a jungle out there, but in this one, only the smart will survive.