Where Empire Avenue Succeeds (and Fails) As a Community Site

by Mack Collier

A little over a week ago I finally caved and joined the Empire Avenue bandwagon.  The site is similar to a stock market, in that the idea is that you ‘invest’ in others by buying and selling shares in them.  As is always the case, I am trying to look at each of the Shiny Objects that the social media fishbowl goes gaga over through the lens of ‘is there any real reason for most businesses to be here?’

In short, there’s not a lot of real business value to be had for the average company on EA.  It’s a game and distraction, no more, no less.  Sure, it’s possible to get some networking value there, but then again you can still get networking value on Identica if you want to bad enough.

But if you accept that EA is little more than a game and competition, it can be fun.  And it was for me.  After a day or so of wondering what in the hell I was supposed to be doing, I noticed that my EA ‘score’ was going up.  People were ‘investing’ in me constantly!  Soon I was at 20 points.  Then 30, then 35, 40, and 50!  I was gaining 5 or so points a day, and I saw that my ‘net wealth’ was up to a few hundred thousand Eaves (the EA ‘currency’).

Then on Saturday, something happened.  My EA score barely moved all day.  Few investments came in.  I shrugged it off, hey it’s just a bad day.  Then Sunday, the same thing.  What the hell was going on?!?  I wasn’t doing anything different (that I could tell), and yet suddenly it was as if someone turned off the faucet.  My score stopped going up, and no one wanted to invest in me anymore, it seemed.

Then yesterday, another flat day.  And that’s when it happened: I realized that Empire Avenue sucked.  Funny how when my score was going up several points every day (even though I never was sure why it was happening), I thought EA was awesome.  Then when my score flatlined, the site sucked and I needed to stop wasting my time on such a silly game.

There’s a really important lesson here if you want to emulate EA and create a competition-based community site.  You need to teach me how to win.  Throughout the last week, I was pretty much on my own in trying to figure out how to ‘win’ at EA, or even figuring out what ‘winning’ looked like.  I got little to no advice from the site, even through searching.  The best advice I got was from a few long-time EA members like @AdrielHampton.

But the bottom line is that my EA score started to suck, and I didn’t know why, so I assume then that Empire Avenue sucks!  (Because I am an irrational human being, remember? ;))

Here’s what should have happened:

1 – Empire Avenue should have made it painfully obvious to me on signup how to ‘win’ and what the object of the game was.

2 – EA should have helped me understand how specific activities are tied to my quest to ‘winning’ the game.  I was able to add my Twitter and YouTube and Facebook accounts to my EA account, but I’m not sure what impact it made.  My Facebook and YouTube scores are still stuck at 1, but I don’t know how to change that.  I should know, and EA should tell me.

3 – When my score started to plateau over the last few days, that should have triggered a way for EA to explain to me what I need to do to get my daily gain back up where it was.  I have no idea why my daily gains started flatlining, but EA should make sure that I do know.

4 – Interaction with other EA members should be a BIG part of ‘winning’.  Or maybe it is and EA never told me about it.


The bottom line is that for me, EA is a semi-fun distraction that I am losing interest in because I feel like I still haven’t crossed the Suck Threshold.  If you’ve tried out Empire Avenue, what do you think?  What am I doing wrong?

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