If you have listened to some of the RSBANDBUpdate! episodes in the past six months where I guested, you may have already learned that I have chosen to stop using Treasure Hunter altogether. I stopped using it from one day to the next, but I don’t think it can be seen as a decision that just happened. Today I want to explain how I decided to stop using Treasure Hunter, and how I’ve enjoyed that since.
When micro-transactions entered RuneScape, I wasn’t a big fan. I wasn’t one of the big complainers either though. It’s a core truth that it is hard to keep games profitable in this day and age, where the expectations of how nice a game looks have become higher than ever. So I learned to live with it, and of course made good use of all the lamps and stars I got from it.
Then Jagex started doing specific promotions. They were fun and interesting in the beginning, and only a natural extension to what we had to make people buy more keys. As the months went by, we saw the number of promotions increase, and the promotions started repeating. Not only that, but promotions all started to look like each other. It was always just a way to give you more experience.
The rewards from Treasure Hunter made me feel like I should log in every single day to not miss out. Especially once the gold premier club started giving me three whole keys a day! I would come home after a long day of work, and yet always try to squeeze in that quick check-in to make sure the keys are being used.
Slowly but surely, my experience and bonus experience ramped up. I got the 99s I wanted. I maxed. Yet… it didn’t quite feel as awesome as I thought it would. I kept using Treasure Hunter of course, in addition to the premier vault. It started to feel like the number of lamps and stars I got from Treasure Hunter got crazier and crazier. My life is fairly busy, and I think it’s reasonable to say that I gained more experience from Treasure Hunter than actual play. It seemed that every day I logged in, there was a new promotion to convince me to get as many keys as possible and use them.
At one particular crazy promotion, I just saw my inventory filled with lamps, and at that point it dawned on me: these lamps did not make me happy. Knowing where my experience came from, I just couldn’t feel proud of my achievements. I destroyed all the lamps, and have not opened a Treasure Hunter chest since.
It is pretty hard to ignore Treasure Hunter in RuneScape. There is always that pop-up when you log in, there are promotions banners to buy keys, and of course the news posts announcing one promotion or another. I can’t blame Jagex, they’re trying to make money. Still, I do my best to ignore them, and it has been a freeing experience. Only days after stopping to use Treasure Hunter, I got a level in invention. It felt like my own achievement again. Yes, I have gained very few levels in the last few months, but each and every one was them was earned through me playing the game as it was designed to. My levels may come less often, but they are no longer empty achievements.
I have also stopped logging in every day. I know I still miss out on things like daily challenges, ports, and that herb run that Shane keeps telling me to start doing, but once I let go of having to do Treasure Hunter, it was easy to let go of other dailies as well. If I don’t have time to log in, or just don’t feel like it, I don’t have to.
In the months coming up to my decision to stop using Treasure Hunter, I complained about it much and often. The promotions were often lazy repetitions, uninspired, and gave way too much experience. It was so easy to fall in the rhythm of just complaining every single time a news post about a promotion was released. Yet, it is so easy to choose to not be bothered by it. To ignore that part of the game entirely. If there’s a Treasure Hunter post, I ignore it. I’ve been considerably less bothered by the micro-transaction part of the game, which has made me enjoy the game more overall.
That doesn’t mean it’s all perfect. The Advent Calendar for one was a bit of a big slap in the face for me. It started with a visual override, so I decided to take part in it. After that, lamp after lamp appeared from the calendar. It was depressing to see how many way Jagex had come up with to just hand out experience. I kept opening the days in the calendar, hoping that something good would pop up, but if anything, it was worse than Treasure Hunter.
We live in a tumultuous time for the game industry. More than ever are game developers scrutinized for offering in-game items for money, especially when random chance is involved. We tend to be okay with purely aesthetic overrides, but when it comes to gameplay bonuses, the pitchforks and torches will show up before you can say “micro-transactions”. Yet we silently accept that you can practically buy yourself to the top of the highscores of RuneScape. Doesn’t that take all the fun out of it, though?
Treasure Hunter often seems like an integral part of the game. It doesn’t have to be that way. Just as an ironman account chooses to forego access to the Grand Exchange and trading, you can decide not to use Treasure Hunter. Nobody is forcing it on you. If you value the feeling of working towards your achievements yourself, if you feel exhausted by the endless Treasure Hunter promotions, or if you are afraid of missing out those daily keys, consider that option. Treasure Hunter, or hunting for your own treasures, the choice is all yours.