Basically Autodesk have released a version of Maya aimed at indie ( read, poor ) game developers. Priced at 800$, or 50$ a month, 125% a quarter on a rental basis, this version has some serious limits.
First, it can only render sprites, making pre-rendered cut-scenes or even composited stills impossible.
Second, there is a 25K polygon cap on FBX export, making it nearly useless for level design and high detail work.
Third, no plugins or Mel.
For many developers, especially ones working on sprite based or low(er) polygon realtime mobile titles, those limitations wont be a big deal and the savings from the full version ( about 2800$ cheaper ) are huge.
For others... hey, ever tried Blender?