Sometimes, the media makes it sound like a foregone conclusion that every new Google product launch will be a success. Not so with Lively: barely a month into its beta release, The Economist
has declared the virtual world a dud. It had seemed promising, too: Whereas users of World of Warcraft and Second Life have to install hefty software onto their desktops, Google's Lively exists solely
on the Web (although you have to download a browser plug-in).
Yet Lively has remained relatively "lifeless." It may be early days yet, but the site's user base is already declining, and
reviews have been negative. The Economist
says the environment is too simple with little on offer besides a series of 3D chat rooms. Unsurprisingly, the most popular rooms revolve around sex
and dating. Some, like "Love Sweet Love" and "Sexy Babes Club" have had thousands of visitors, but the number drops precipitously from there.
Why the flop? Greg Lastowka, an expert on
virtual worlds at Rutgers School of Law in New Jersey, points out that there's nothing to do in Lively if you're not chatting with someone. By comparison, Second Life has a thriving economy, which
engages also engages users' creativity. Disney's Club Penguin, a popular virtual world for kids, offers lots of games. Google admits that Lively hasn't been a success. Mark Young, part of the site's
design team, said he hopes to tweak "everything. Much of the user interface is not as complete or polished as planned in designs.
Read the whole story at The Economist »