Empire Avenue, new social game or social media timesink?

Last Thursday, a new social media game called Empire Avenue opened its virtual doors to the public and offered us the ability to invest in each other. Much like the stock market, each user chooses their own stock symbol and seeks to show others how influential they are through blog posts, Facebook status updates, tweets, and photos on Flickr. By showing others how influential you are, the theory is that your stock will rise.

The concept is novel, but after being on the site and actively trading for five days, I have yet to see any value returned to the users. I have bought, I have sold, I have been both bought and sold, and I have communicated with others on the site. I have linked my Twitter profile, Facebook feed, and blog to contribute content to the site. I have purchased self-promoting advertisements (the way you inform others of your interests and skills), and just can’t quite determine the value. If I’m going to spend my time, I’d like to know that I can get something back. For instance, if I earn cash, let me purchase gift cards with my earnings. Maybe Empire Avenue has this in their future, but unless they provide some indication as such, I’m not going to invest my energy in something that will just suck my content and re-purpose it for the monetezation of their site.

Stock market games are nothing new, they have been challenging high school and college students for quite a while now. But a social stock market game that combines the fast action of commodity trading with the collaborative aspect of social media is intriguing. The problem is that it has to offer something back to the community, and watching tickers isn’t anywhere near as entertaining as firing up the Wii, PS3 or XBox.

I’m a pretty social guy, active in most aspects of social media, but I’m afraid that when given the choice between blogging, tweeting, Facebooking or eAving….I’ll skip the stock market. Or…maybe I’ll just fire up a new game of StarCraft 2. As always, I reserve the right to be wrong and will probably check back once a week until I see the value. I’ll report back if anything changes.

Have other thoughts or experiences with Empire Avenue? See some real value that I’m just missing? I’m always open to thoughts/comments!

–Sean

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