It’s been a bit over 18 months since I last wrote about this site called Empire Avenue. At the time I wrote some tips on how one might actually play the game.

Unfortunately, these days you’re more likely to get one of these while cruising through some of the accounts on the site:

EA404

What’s going on? Basically it’s all come down to money. In essence, the people who run the site are trying to find a money model that will help them make money and the people who use the site are irked at all the changes that have made it more difficult for some of them to drive up their scores drastically, as well as some of the networking that used to go on.

What the game does is works like a stock market of sorts. One earns what they call eaves, their equivalent of money, one of two ways. One is by having lots of people buy shares in you. The other is in doing things on social media sites, enough so that it helps impact your score in a positive way.

To encourage people to buy shares in you, one of the biggest things you had to do was buy shares yourself, if not necessarily in those folks. When you reached certain levels you could decide to increase your level via using up some of your eaves or by spending a little bit of cash, most often $20. Some people had no problem with that, thus some money was raised. But that wasn’t enough it seems, so now it not only costs you way more of your own eaves to move up a level (2.2 million eaves as opposed to the 500,000 it used to be) but $50 instead of that $20. And many more things cost money as well.

Then the site decided to kill the option of many of the folks using certain automated tools to help them along in playing the game. I’m not necessarily griping at that one because I’m someone who’s always played the game directly. But people had automatic messages and automatic buying and automatically could find players who were new or growing or whatever else you wanted to find out. All of that is gone.

One final thing the site did, which made me happy, was start giving more value to people who were actually playing the game. My own score started going up more often since I play the game almost every day, but many of the top people’s scores started to stagnate, especially after their auto tools went away.

What’s happened? Many people have stopped playing the game. Those who decide to make a statement when they leave close their account, which results in that image above and people getting their money back if they’d ever bought any eaves in those accounts. More eaves is nice, but your score takes a major hit every time it happens, and it’s happening a lot now. So, even though my daily score will increase, all it takes is someone to close their account who owned even 500 of my shares and suddenly my score is dropping. And when your score drops, no one wants to buy any of your shares for a while.

Here’s the thing. I’m once again seeing a website that seemed to have a good thing going messing up and not listening to its users. I can’t say that I have a lot of suggestions for this site because truthfully, I’m mainly there playing it only as a game. But there are some fairly smart people playing the game who have played for a long time that do offer lots of suggestions, but administration doesn’t seem to be listening to almost any of those people, which makes them leave.

That’s what happened to a site I used to participate on many years ago called Ryze, which for awhile was one of the top 500 websites in the world and is now sitting down around 71,000 per Alexa. And it’s also what’s happened to sites like MySpace and Friendster; that last one isn’t even around anymore as far as I know.

There’s nothing wrong with making money; heck, all of us are out to make money however we can get there. However, there’s something inherently wrong with the system when a few people decide to totally shake things up and alienates enough people so that they leave & make a site obsolete. Facebook has dangled on that thin line for awhile and keeps surviving, and yet I’m reading more stories from people who have deleted their accounts. How many people are actually using AOL for anything more than email and possibly to read a news story here and there? Yahoo? Excite?

If it’s a blog or something owned by one person who decides to change things up, it’s only on you and more power to you. But if it’s your livelihood and you’ve got a lot of people to play with you, so to speak, drastically changing your model so that you alienate your core base and become off-putting to new members is suicidal. Of course it’s still up to the owners to do what they want to do but if I’m the last man standing on the game… well, trust me, if it looks bad I won’t be.
 

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