A lot has changed a lot since 2013, and Second Life has changed too. While 'Hunts' are still a going enterprise in SL, a huge market in collect and trade 'Gacha' items has exploded into a huge deal for many SL users.
Since the gacha industry survives on a 'you never know what you're going to get' mechanism, combined with the 'gotta get them all' impulse, many gacha enthusiasts end up with lots of duplicate or unwanted items, while trying to get one specific item they want.
There is a huge gacha resale and trade community in SL these days, and 'yardsales' have become huge like never before. Hundreds or thousands of items rezzed in sims, set for sale, with multiples of the same item in tiny 'pay this prim to receive one' scripted vendors.
The world api can allow capable users (or users with a scripted tool that generates the link) can show items in the parcel that are manually set to 'show in search'.. but as we know, this data is infrequently updated, and the 'show in search' setting defaults to off, so resellers with low technical literacy may not know to turn it on for every item on the parcel.
Area Search is a commonly used tool to find these items, and it's presence in firestorm guarantees that most users in SL have access to it. Because of this, many yardsale managers don't see the need to go through all the work get every single seller to turn on 'show in search' for every single item on their parcel/sim, just to appease those (few?) users who don't or won't use firestorm.
With the advent of Gacha, I think Area Search has reached the point where it's mainstream usefulness may outweigh the concerns regarding hunts.
Catznip R11 - Dec 11 2016 20:36:06 (Catznip Release)
You are at 238.0, 59.5, 501.2 in Devine located at sim10521.agni.lindenlab.com (220.127.116.11:13000)
(global coordinates 258,542.0, 294,204.0, 501.2)
Second Life Server 16.12.09.322268
CPU: AMD FX(tm)-8350 Eight-Core Processor (4018.35 MHz)
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Packets Lost: 33/21,767 (0.2%)
January 07 2017 01:23:47