Avenue Rewards allows businesses to offer products and discounts to users of the service based on their behaviour. Users can be rewarded based on their loyalty (if a user is a “shareholder” of a company’s “stock” on Empire Avenue for a certain amount), influence (how high a user’s stock price is) or by the amount of the game’s virtual currency they hold.
The Canadian startup has been testing the program with the Outback Steakhouse restaurant in Edmonton, which is offering a free lunch item for virtual currency, and Niagara Falls Hotels, which are offering $10 off admission to a waterpark. The platform is now open to businesses right around the world to register for.
Online social gaming is hot stuff at the moment and when it comes to monetizing their games, startups are turning to brands. Just look at Foursquare, Gowalla and GetGlue‘s deals with businesses; Pongr is even building an entire service built around identifying the most enthusiastic “brand embassadors”.
Empire Avenue’s rewards program is free of charge to businesses and is potentially a great way for the startup to encourage users to spend more time on the service, trading stock and building up their own virtual stock price. It will eventually support monetization methods like allowing users to upgrade their accounts or buy virtual currency to use within the social stock market.
While until now Empire Avenue has seemed like little more than a bit of short-term amusement with no way of benefitting from a high stock price, if it can get a few big names on board it may become well worth spending some quality time building up your Empire Avenue stock and reaping the rewards.