There’s a bit of a blogosphere discussion going on about inventory management and item weight, it seems to have started with a post by Belghast about coin weight in Pantheon. I would consider the latter to be important only if your MMORPG is highly simulationist and focused on the in-game economy as gameplay. Black Desert Online is the only game I’ve played much of recently that has weight for coins – my character has to bank coins earned semi-regularly to avoid getting encumbered.
It makes sense in that game’s deep economic gameplay to restrict just how much money a character can carry, not least because markets are separate and moving goods and money around between settlements is part of this. It’s not so relevant to most of the MMOs that I play, however. The other context I can think of for coins having weight, one that Pantheon is likely tapping into, is the “limiting the loot you can carry back from your adventures”. I imagine was inspired by classic Everquest. It’s not gameplay I ever experienced in that or any more modern MMORPG. Yes, you have limited inventory slots, but beyond that there aren’t restrictions on how much your character can carry.
There’s another aspect to how inventory management, or even coin weight, can be a positive or negative gameplay facet: world design. The zones that your character travels through, and adventures in, can impact just how we perceive the inventory sub-system of the game. If there are plenty of places where you can sell off unwanted trinkets or gear then inventory space isn’t such a big deal. If NPC vendors are as sparse as hens’ teeth, then suddenly the inventory juggling mini-game becomes an ever-present feature. That can be a bane or a boon depending on your outlook, of course.
Modern World of Warcraft is a model for the former situation. Summonable mounts with NPC vendors mean my characters can sell from any outdoor location. Most quest hubs and all settlements have at least one vendor NPC as well. Flight points to reach a major city with banks and other services are common-place. Contrast that with the absolute dearth of the same in World of Warcraft Classic – no summonable vendor mount, very few NPC vendors about, and usually only one flight point per zone.
In fact it’s not just old-school games that place an emphasis on good inventory management, and punish you if you fail to keep up. Elder Scrolls Online has very few NPC vendors outside major cities. Very few of the quest hub settlements that I’ve adventured through have any real services, not even NPC to sell to. Admittedly in a nod to modern MMO design you can teleport with a lot more frequency than in WoW Classic, at a monetary cost, so it’s not quite so punishing unless you’re penny-pinching.
I’m generally all for convenience when it comes to access to vendors and other services. If these are easy enough to access then inventory management doesn’t become this all-consuming aspect to gameplay.