Empire Avenue - Redux

CAVEAT - I have not talked to anyone at EA about the ideas laid out below - I am simply writing as a sideline(d) observer.

I recently posted to Beyond Bridges { you can read it here } regarding Empire Avenue. If you don’t know them - check them out - more from me on that at another time. BUT - The more I think, the more I read, the more I engage. the more I realize that I have almost got a book to write …. don’t worry - this is just a post - and I won’t get round to writing the book :-)

This post was prompted by a post from fellow resident of the Avenue Ryan J Zeigler on his blog ROI Sucks - and then I saw this today by Empire Avenue - which is mainly unrelated - but connected!

To Ryan’s post first - GREAT post. And as far as I can see it is the first of a series he is planing in an interview with the team at EA. I hope it will warm up a bit - and get down to what they see as the raison d’etre of EA.

I found Ryans’s piece interesting and good to see some insights - but I really would like to see less drill down on the technicality of the game - and more focus on what they think it is all about. For example this piece was very much focussed on the nitty gritty of Google ve Pinterest v APIs etc … and while I agree - all very valid - the fact is that all EA can do with any of the other networks is use whatever data gets delivered through the API.

And if they are going to stay on the technicality of the game - then I would like to understand what they are doing to improve the quality of their data. For example - mention was made of the fact that they reward comments and interactions on a network - not just the postings. So my question is then ‘how do you assess the QUALITY of the engagement ?’ We all know that EA’s own mission system is being used to drop butt loads of EAVS onto your lap in return for which you literally sprinkle comments and likes and +1s onto the mission providers page.

…. of course - EA then sees that has engagement and rewards accordingly.

There isn’t an easy fix for this - but until we work this through - and Klout, PeerIndex, ConnectMe and a host of others are all suffering from the same problem - we will be stuck in the endless loop of measuring the stuff thats easy and ignoring or forgetting that which is hard.

What SEEMS to be the problem is that EA have latched onto something that I believe is the way of the future - that’s what my next post is all about. But bottom line - it plays into understanding skills and competency and abilities and trust and ….. across networks - and measuring all of that. I think they were off to a flying start.


  1. I don’t think that EA see that is their future - pity - because there is a big future there

  2. They have a massive idea on their hands - think about it - they have a social media stock market  - imagine the days before stock markets - and someone said - what we need is a place to buy and sell stock in a controlled and managed way - hard idea to get across at the time - absolutely. Big idea with legs - TOTALLY.

  3. They seem to be approaching the problem in piece meal fashion at least as far an outside observer can see.

  4. They are becoming a follower in the Social Media space - a sight twist of focus - and they become the leader.

Consider the EA post referenced above.

To summarize (because I don’t want go into the nature of the game here) - they have made some short term tactical decisions to allow certain benefits to players. Now they want to expand the game - in a way that is going to have an impact on those players - and those are the very players that are EA’s evangelists.

Meanwhile - they are having a hard time (I think - and I read )

  1. getting players to sign up and join the game

  2. retaining those players once they have committed.

Classic - they are about to piss off the evangelists in an attempt to improve the game - at the same time  as trying to make it better for the 90%. Which BTW is a small 90%, we don’t have the figures because EA don’t release them - but I have to say I see a lot of the same names over and over again. It can’t be a vast world. And bring no value to the people who are not yet in the game. For example by lowering the learning curve of engagement.

I have to say - of all the networks I operate in - it is the best , The people in the company and the game are QUALITY. They have engagement - and engagement in spades. But something is wrong

  • Adoption - not happening
  • Retention - having a hard time
  • Evangelists - annoyed that the game is getting boring - AND - about to be rolled over by the company.

I wrote on a post in FB somewhere today … Devil / Deep Blue Sea … Rock / Hard Place - EA lies some within.

My suggestion in this one is as I wrote in the comment :

We need to ask ‘What problem are we trying to solve’.

In the example above where EA are focussed on asking the players what they want - I can’t work out what problem they are trying to solve. It’s like the guy in the car in the country asking how to get to New York. Well, the farmer replies - if I was going there - I wouldn’t be starting here !

If we don’t know what problem we are solving - we don’t know how to phrase the question - and the answers that come back will be given in the understood context - which is not necessarily the same as EA might see it.

I have only been on EA for a year, but it strikes me over and over that the changes made do not solve problems that the players are having. There is another agenda - which we don’t see - and thats ok - but without that agenda - we can’t answer the tactical questions.

Meanwhile - there have been complaints - and so now we are being asked to vote - and within the vote - one of the options can’t technically be delivered.

In this instance - I would just leave it alone and instead focus on getting more players into the game - so players can easily spend EAVS on lots of different people and network and leverage and …. which I think is what the game is meant to be about.

If I was EA - I would focus on two things

  • make the game more interesting and sophisticated for the evangelists and long time players of the game
  • make it more accessible and easier for a new player - so they aren’t swamped and run away - because they THINK they can’t catch up.

Nobody has asked - but that won’t stop me - a first crack at suggesting some of the many ideas I have for what could be done to enhance the system - and allow us to work toward accomplishing both of these things.


  1. Mutual Funds - yes we can buy stock - but imagine if some of the big players were allowed to create share packages that they could sell - so I bundle say 10 or 20 stocks in to the Fractal Mutual Fund - and then new players can buy into that fund - I of course take a commission on it - since I am carefully managing the portfolio on their behalf
  2. Flag somewhere if players have used real $s to buy EAVS 0 it isn’t a big deal one way or the other - but for example - someone who has splashed out on $500 of EAVS has a definite advantage - and new players should be able to see what is possible by spending money - and not
  3. At the same time create not a ‘business’ versus ‘personal’ league ladder - but rather a ‘weighted’ rating - not sure how the equation would work - but lets say that there is an algorithm that ties - number of shareholders - number in the portfolio - wealth - portfiolio value - wealth growth over a )7, 14, 30 day average period) - etc etcPLUS a weighting factor as we call it in business - a ‘handicap’ might be the golfing equivalent for revealing directly - or indirectly - as to the $$s being placed into Empire Avenue to buy EAVs, upgrades, slices of cakes etc
  4. Allow Mergers and Acquisitions - at the moment a player can edit the game - imagine if they could simply sell their portfolio to another player ?

And - if anyone is interested - I have a lot more where they come from >>>

My thanks for your attention.

April 8, 2012