Empire Avenue is a standalone website and companion Facebook application that simulates a virtual stock market based on social interactions and the concept of online influence. It’s the first product from developer Empire Avenue Inc., a team made up of members with many collective years’ experience in the online and gaming industries. The Facebook app has shown an all-time high of 14,306 monthly active users and 10,645 daily active users on our data service tracking application, AppData, and both figures continue to grow steadily.
In Empire Avenue’s stock market, people are the commodities. Duleepa “Dups” Wijayawardhana, CEO of Empire Avenue, is keen to distinguish it from other, older Facebook apps which allow you to “buy and sell” your friends by emphasizing the social angle.
“We are evaluating your network value and setting that as the value with which you trade people,” he says. “We’re completely different from other ‘buy friends’ concepts in the sense that this app and game has a full social network attached to it. The game will basically lead you into social media; it’s a great training tool as well as something to have a lot of fun with.”
An individual’s share price is determined by their level of online influence, measured by their frequency of interactions with other people along with updates to blogs, number of Likes on Facebook and many other factors. Players can buy and sell shares in people — including their Facebook friends who aren’t playing the game, who are currently sold at a flat rate — in an attempt to accumulate as large a portfolio and volume of personal wealth as possible. Achievements are earned for a variety of social accomplishments, including numbers of Facebook status updates, significant numbers of commenters on a thread and earnings milestones.
The game is monetized primarily through the purchase of Eaves, the game’s virtual currency. Currently, this system uses PayPal, but Dups says the team are happy to adopt Facebook Credits when required to this July. Alongside purchasing virtual currency directly, Eaves can also be earned via ad clickthroughs from company partner Super Rewards.
As well as purchasing Eaves, account upgrades to extend limits on gameplay (such as maximum number of people in a portfolio, or maximum number of shares that can be owned) can be bought using a combination of in-game and real currency. Every item can be purchased using nothing but in-game currency if players choose, but spending real money will get them there quicker.
“We want to monetize while respecting our users and especially the privacy of our users online,” explains Dups. “As we pursue options with brands and other possibilities, look for our monetization models to expand. We can’t speak on a lot of them; some have been tried before by others, and some are completely new and evolutionary, if not revolutionary.”
The Empire Avenue service entered closed beta on February 17 2010 before officially launching on July 28 of the same year. Since its initial launch, there has been a steady rollout of new features, with new Achievements, statistics tracking and community features added regularly. The Facebook app itself was part of the game’s continual expansion strategy, going live on April 5 2011. Dups notes that each update is intended to “train you to understand social media and your use of it, having fun with social media, getting value out of social media.”
You can follow Empire Avenue’s progress on Facebook with AppData, our traffic tracking application for social games and developers.