Google abandons virtual world

Didn't even last six months.

Google is to abandon Lively, the social virtual world it launched as recently as July.

In an official blog post, the Lively lads said the project would be discontinued at the end of December.

"We want to ensure that we prioritise our resources and focus more on our core search, ads and apps business," said the Google overmind that rules us all.

Lively had been envisioned as an online games platform, among other things, according to our colleagues at GamesIndustry.biz.

Google's decision comes at a time when commentators are asking if the much-hyped virtual worlds phenomenon is ever truly going to take off.

Despite being obsessed over by the mainstream media, Second Life is facing falling revenues and user numbers, and operator Linden Labs has recently been forced to put its prices up.

Only social worlds aimed at children and teens - such as Habbo Hotel and Club Penguin - seem to be reliably profitable. Google's withdrawal from the virtual world business at this point is telling.

It will be interesting to see how the new virtual world Blue Mars - which, with its high-end CryEngine graphics and science-fiction setting seems aimed at a gaming rather than mass-market audience - fares on its release next spring.

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