I recently watched Rev Anthony's Rant about indy game developers not receiving due payment when high quality games are created and released to the public. Is there a way smaller developers could be paid for hard work? I think the answer is maybe. As Anthony mentioned the issue is really pay per performance. If a game is good then it deserves payment. There will always be the potential for buyer's remorse but if you're an indy game developer giving away your wares for free or near free then there's a good chance of seller's remorse as well.
After some rumination I think I may have come up with a possible solution to this problem and as Rev mentioned it involves a paradigm shift. The real issue here is distribution and advertising. Larger game developers have more money to spend on advertising thus increasing the public's awareness of the next new, supposedly hot game being released. So simply by increasing awareness they've increased the chance that at least someone will purchase the finished game. Smaller game developers on the other hand don't have as much money to spend on advertising so they're forced to lower the price of their game in hopes of increasing the chance that someone will pick it up. This is where things need to change.
What I think needs to happen is the creation of a indy game collective. This would be a group of indy developers selling their games together. Thrifty Gamers would likely be more willing to pay a bit of cash for multiple games instead only one game at a time. The consumer would pay a base price for all the games that would be distributed and then after they finished playing the games they could decide what percentage of the initial price paid would go to each developer. The entire cost paid up front would have to be distributed as the gamer sees fit. If they wanted to play all the games and then only pay for one of them, they could. Alternately they could decide to divide the upfront cost evenly between all the developers. In this way the games seen as being of the highest quality would in theory get the money they deserved and the smaller indy developers would have the chance to get their games distributed to an increased audience. Depending on the number of games included in the purchase price there might even be enough money for a little advertising getting the word out even further.