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Google pulls plug on Lively

Virtual world to be canned in December as company admits social and gaming experiment was unsuccessful

Google has decided to pull the plug its virtual world Lively after less than five months.

The company admitted that taking a gamble on creating an online social networking space has not paid off, and the network will be canned at the end of the year.

"In July we launched Lively in Google Labs because we wanted users to be able to interact with their friends and express themselves online in new ways," said the company.

"Google has always been supportive of this kind of experimentation because we believe it's the best way to create ground-breaking products that make a difference to people's lives. But we've also always accepted that when you take these kinds of risks not every bet is going to pay off."

The team behind Lively will move on to other projects, with Google concentrating on its advertising, search and applications business.

"It has been a tough decision, but we want to ensure that we prioritise our resources and focus more on our core search, ads and apps business. Lively.com will be discontinued at the end of December, and everyone who has worked on the project will then move on to other teams."

The company had grand plans for Lively. At GDC Austin, product manager Mel Guymon revealed that Google intended to release an API (application programming interface) to developers to allow them to create games for the network.

The long term goal for Lively was to turn it into an online games platform, according to creative director Kevin Hanna, a place where developers could enjoy a creative output rather than succumb to the "corporate mentality" of the games industry.

"It's sucking the life out of what should be the most creative and innovative medium out there, and I hope that this [Lively] inspires those same 'passionate start-ups' and kids in college to actually go and produce games where they don't have to worry about the visual bar or the accessibility, because those things are already pre-established."

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