Progrestar, an established social developer in Russia, has begun venturing into Facebook with a new title called Digger. We discovered Digger when Progrestar informed us of their exclusive, use of Facebook Credits, and the treasure hunting app has slowly begun its climb up the social network charts.
Digger borrows a number of elements from Treasure Isle and Treasure Madness, but has some original aspects. Players dig up treasure and use its value to decorate a virtual space. You start off on a tiny spit of land and dig up the grid spaces in search of treasure and experience. When players complete treasure sets of five, they can be sold for in-game coins or kept in a museum.
If no treasures pop up, players will often still get money (bottle caps) or food to restore energy. There are also random obstacles that require more than a shovel to circumvent, including trees, bushes, flies, and bear traps (bear traps?), and even the occasional pirate. These challenges merely add more variety to the same concept found in Treasure Island.
Buying tools is different, though. On a player’s home island, they can order various goods from an opportunistic traveling salesman. He carries many objects, but some will need to be ordered, taking anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple hours for delivery. To mitigate the wait, players can visit a friend’s island and collect a random assortment of supplies (sort of like the different colored gem trees in Treasure Isle).
“Supplies” refers to more than just consumable items like dynamite. There is also, very literally, an item called “Supplies” required to explore new islands. Oddly, exploring an island not only incurs a supply cost, but a virtual currency cost as well. This seems like a poor choice. Players are given enough starting virtual currency to explore all the low-level areas, but gating off a core game play element seems unlikely to help with user retention. Unless a player becomes truly addicted to the game, he or she will simply stop playing when all the virtual currency they were given is spent — which seems to be happening, judging by the game’s extremely low stickiness factor, with only two percent of players returning on a daily basis.
Various bonus items that can also be purchased with virtual currency, such as a magnet or a cookbook that increase the rate in players find certain items. The cookbook is particularly useful. Unlike Treasure Isle, players do not gain a larger pool of energy as they level up, and digging requires a lot. Players start with 60 energy, and each dig costs seven more, meaning that playtime in one sitting is exceedingly short. Social elements can be used to extend energy — players create teams of friends, the more people on the team, the more energy the player has.
Our biggest complaint with Digger is the pacing. The game tends to run sluggishly and after a while, it became nearly unplayable. This slow pace is further emphasized by the visuals and game mechanics. Not only do players run out of energy quickly, but it takes a while to buy supplies even the animations feel very stiff and slow.
Digger has some new elements to differentiate itself from Treasure Madness and Treasure Isle, but still feels like more of the same, and not as polished. The game has grown fairly rapidly, reaching 152,545 monthly active users, but with only 2,718 DAU it’s evident that players are looking for more. Hopefully, Progrestar will be able to work out some of the kinks before it loses its growth momentum.