You can ship games without a graphics programmer pretty easily now-a-days because of all the engines. What you generally need a graphics programmer for are things like
A graphics programmer would know and/or learn how a particular engine works and be able to direct the artists or modify the materials or merge models or use other techniques etc to get better performance from the engine.
understanding and instruction
A artist wants to achieve a certain effect. The graphics programmer who understands how the engine works can explain how to achieve that effect.
customizations and effects
Certain effects might require programming. Much of the rendering of Bound is custom.
This is no different than movies. With 100s of programmers, a large budget and bad writing you might get Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. With no programmers and good writing you might get Primer. Programmers (or other technical people) can allow new things. Programmers brought CG mud to Shrek, CG hair to Monsters Inc, Bullet Time to The Matrix, etc. But, movies themsevels are not about the effects and it's fully possible to make amazing movies without effects or new custom tech.
The same is more or less true for games now. Graphics programmers might allow the fluids in Pixel Junk Shooter or all the dynamic geometry of Bound but plenty of games can be made with standard engine tech and no graphics programmers.