Today is simply impossible for a single person/small team to create a rival to Call of Duty 4 or Fallout 3, while back then it was relatively simple for someone with the skills and talent to emerge.
More so, they prove (again) that the technology arms race in today's video games is utterly retarded. It's also the reason many indie games tend to be so good and refreshing - they can't make a hitech ultra-HD game, so they focus on what really matters: gameplay and design.
I love good code & elegant design, but it doesen't beat having a successful product out there.
Remember, shipping is a feature ;)
Remember, usability is a feature. >:3