Most of these points deal with games that are being designed with a Eurogame audience in mind as gaming publishers that take the opposite approach (i.e. Fantasy Flight with their $80, bit/component intensive games) don't accept outside game submissions. Their designs come from in-house designers and their audience is looking for a component-rich gaming experience with "epic" game design (i.e. lots of rules to facilitate a very highly thematic game), not a simplified, Eurogame design.
So, how much is your game worth? What would be a price that others would be willing to pay to have a copy of your game? Doing some mathmatical generalization, whatever that price is, divide it in half because that's most likely what a retailer will be paying for it from their wholesaler. Then, divide that number in half again because that's probably what the wholesaler will be paying for it from the manufacturer. Now consider that that's where the publisher's cost needs to be per unit to make a profit off selling it to a wholesaler. Let's spell this out using a game like "Carcassonne":
-Carcassonne sells for about $25.00 retail.
-Dividing that in half for the price from the wholesaler to the retailer can be estimated as being around $12.50
-Dividing that in half again for the price from the manufacturer to the wholesaler can be estimated at around $6.25
Now consider that a publisher like Rio Grande will have to produce copies of Carcassonne for less than $6.25 per copy to make money off of it.
The next issue one encounters in this process is the issue of print runs. Printing companies will charge less per unit if there are more total units in the print run. Printing enough copies to make the cost of the game worth it leads to the issue of now having to sell that many more copies of the game to make a profit. So, if you play it safe and do a small print run of 500 copies of a game (assuming a printing company will do a print run that small) then your per unit costs will be prohibitive. If you make your per unit costs more acceptable by doing a 2000 copy print run, now you are under pressure to sell a lot more games to turn a profit. Now consider just for a moment that making a game at even $4.00 per copy and printing 500 copies of that game equals a $2000 investment. It's no wonder that game publishers have to take into account the components involved in a prototype they are looking at. Every piece of the game is going to cost money to make.
The Focus of Design
Many of us who try our hand at designing games can get caught up in the smaller particulars of design and, in the process, lose sight of whether or not our game is an economically viable idea. I've presented a few thoughts on the matter here simply to help remind all of us, myself included, that we can't ignore the economics involved when we are creating a game. We owe it to the publishers to give them as slick of a prototype as we can so that they have all the more reason to say to themselves "Alright, let's invest our hard earned money in this guy's game because we believe we can make money off of it."