Google axes its Lively metaverse experiment

Not even five months into the project, Google's Lively Team announced that the gadget-based mini-metaverse will be discontinued at the end of December.

"Google has always been supportive of this kind of experimentation because we believe it's the best way to create groundbreaking 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's official announcement said, "It has been a tough decision, but we want to ensure that we prioritize our resources and focus more on our core search, ads and apps business."

Lively was based on a browser plug-in for IE and Firefox that allowed users to create avatars in 3D chat rooms, each of which behaved like a miniature metaverse. However, the service began at a rather large impasse in that while Lively could be embedded in popular social network Facebook, it could not be linked to a user's Google account due to privacy issues. Reports also surfaced in September that Lively was not compatible with Google's own Chrome browser.

There is no associated staff reduction here, as all those who worked on the project will be moved to other teams, according to Google.

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