Empire Avenue: Can Anything Professional Come From It?

Empire Avenue for social gamers and social media professionals is quickly becoming the rage.

Empire Avenue or #EA as it's AKA, is by their definition "The Social Media Exchange - Empire Avenue is the Social Media Exchange, where you can invest in any social media profile by buying their shares, meet new people, unlock Achievement badges, and earn boatloads of virtual cash by being active and social online! Buy shares in your friends, your followers, people with similar interests, brands you love, celebrities – anyone! All using a virtual currency and all for free!"

Thank you for that, but what does that mean?

It's like the three "F's" of "Friends, Fans & Followers" becoming a valid commodity dependent upon their social usage. You're friends that are by their very nature, or profession on social media networks aggressively will be worth more, but those with a median level of participation are considered "safe" as their stats infrequently change do to their minimal usage of their social graph or "in-game play." You're allocated an initial amount of virtual currency, and if you wish to amp that up you can do so by purchasing 'in-game' currency with real-team money. Wait! What? That's right, just like Farmville, Cityville, Mafia Wars and others, you can pay your way up the food chain in a number of ways.

So why should I play a stupid social game I hate that crap!

I understand, really. My wife was addicted to "Vampire Wars" for almost a half a year and I felt like when she finally got bored and came back to us, she was hotter and more agile. That being said we all know that social networks by their very nature are "time sinks" and most people feel a waste of it at that. Well in some instances I would agree with them and in Empire Avenues instance I would say not to be so quick to judge. Not only have I (and all those who play it) learned a basic fundamental education on how the stocks, markets, net wealth and earnings are created but there's a massive in-game communications hub happening on hundreds of levels. Cities, Interests/Brands & Personal/Private "communities" are sharing a wealth of real world and in game knowledge. It's a bit like linkedin's "answers" section with a game around it. Admittedly not as refined but you get the basic picture.


Example, I join the "Instagram Community" for my interest in social photography and started a thread:

Original Post:

Justice Mitchell: A new player in the #social #photography scene arrives: http://mashable.com/2011/05/04/snapbuckets/ #snapbucket from #photobucket - Looks like #instagram has direct competition for once.


Tom West: Interesting.. this could be serious competition given that a) a lot of people already have photobucket accounts and b) it will be available to Android and Blackberry users, a massive market which Instagram currently doesn't support. However I think the ball remains firmly in Instagram's court, if it responds quickly it can capitalize on it's strong brand and previous USP to corner the rest of the market, if not snap-bucket could start putting on a significant squeeze.


Justice Mitchell: Agreed. Totally agreed. But you know, good competition makes for better products. I think IG's been in a bit of a holding pattern the last few months. "Tilt Shift" is not going to keep the interest of people expecting progressive revisions. I'm still amazed that they've not exploited 'in-app' purchasing of filters and acted as a sub-hub for filter developers to sell through. The model could be enormous. It still feels like there might be an infrastructure issue to the app as well; having not created a companion application. Just some thoughts.

Good talk! Mind if I post this as blog content? I'd be more than happy to point to your IG account; (e)aves account or whatever you wish.


Tom West: I’m with you on all those points. Healthy competition can be a really good thing. When an app like this totally dominates a market it loses in the incentive to improve and innovate. It does feel as though IG hasn’t begun to fully tap it potential yet, as the points you raised illustrate, there’s far more they could/should be doing. A solid useable web-based interface seems like one of the most obvious developments which would help spread the word and increase uptake official usage of the site.

Other simple developments could allow users more flexibility, little things like a short bio for each user, some basic stats on your photos so that you could track your growth in the site over time. Plus I’d love to see some more ways to filter the photos (not in the editing sense!) such as latest photos, newest members, photo of the day/week/month etc. Anyway, at least the latest update appears to have fixed my stability issue, so I won’t be complaining too loudly for now..

Ps. Happy for you to repost anywhere as long as it’s attributed, a link to my IG username (http://web.stagram.com/n/westatom/) and this site wouldn’t hurt either. ;-)

This illustrated the point to me that there's something different here. I'm not sure it will indefinitely keep my attention or those of it's fan-base but for know it's an interesting opportunity to see that the social gaming world has something to learn from Empire Avenue. That we're going to demand more than puritanical 'entertainment' if they intend to aggregate, establish and maintain a larger fan-base. The term "gamification" is being abused to the point that my music aggregator blip.fm was giving me badges for my participation. If this is seen as the prerequisite than I fear that it will become more clutter and the backlash will be that of the luddite's to social gaming. Sometimes you just have to scream "BADGES! We don't need no stinking BADGES!"

Now to the flip-side, Empire Avenue is about is intuitive as finding your car in a mall parking deck while it's raining, but that too will shake itself out (I hope). These days UX seems to come second. It's no worse than every real day-trading applications I've seen, those things are a user experience nightmare! But I digress. When you start game play it's like being dropped into combat behind enemy lines with a pocket full of money. GO! I invite you to play for a week and tell me your thoughts.

But the rules are simple with great games - Make it fun, make it smart, make it better progressively and keep it fast. We'll see what tomorrow brings, for this game and others like it.

More Empire Avenue links than you can shake a stick at:

Various link mashups:

Conversation and tips:


Fan Sites & Resources:

Influence Measurement:

Good Articles:

Are you playing Empire Avenue? Are you playing a social game online, like Farmville or Mafia Wars? I'd love to hear what you think of it. Give me a shout, good or bad I'm here to talk!