Private Eye's teenage poet and obituarist E.J. Thribb would have had plenty of opportunity in his 17 and a half years to chronicle the death of independent studios.
But Pivotal's sad fate throws a light on a less appreciated reason for developer death. Most independent developers that have failed over the years had rubbish production processes, were creatively limited, or were financially over-stretched, either through recklessness or necessity, and so vulnerable to shocks such as a canning or the loss of key staff members. But that's not what's typically killed successful developers. Rather, publishers have. If you want to stop a great developer making great games, a good way has been to buy it.