Sad Glitch girl

Startup Tiny Speck announced that it will be shutting down its quirky browser-based, massively multiplayer game, Glitch, at the end of the year.

According to the website, Tiny Speck (helmed by Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield) will close the live game/world at 8 p.m. Pacific time on  Dec. 9, while the website and forums will stay open until the end of the year.

“For many of us at Tiny Speck, the creation of something like Glitch was a long-held dream. There’s no better word than ‘heartbreaking’ to describe what it feels like to have to do this,” the startup said.

Tiny Speck noted that Glitch had not “attracted an audience large enough to sustain itself and based on a long period of experimentation and our best estimates, it seems unlikely that it ever would.”

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The whimsical title – a cross between 2D platforming and an acid trip – attracted a cult following, particularly among social gamers and jaded games journalists tired of standard MMO experiences.

Glitch’s trippy trailer explained all you needed to know – it placed you inside the brain of one of 11 giants who collectively imagined the world. According to the trailer, “you’re inside their thoughts,” and your task was to make them bigger.

The trailer had a zany energy that evoked deliciously wacky experiences like Katamari Damaci – no coincidence, since Tiny Speck enlisted the services of Japanese game developer Keita Takahashi, who created Katamari.

Glitch had a somewhat tumultuous history that had many rooting for the quirky little MMO that could.

Back in April 2011, Tiny Speck raised $10.7 million in funding from Andreessen Horowitz and Accel. After the game launched on Sept. 27, 2011, Tiny Speck “unlaunched” it a couple months later to resume beta testing.

And now the end is near for this social game that was perhaps too imaginative for its own good.

Tiny Speck will issue automatic refunds for recent purchases and will manually handle refunds for older transactions, beginning with the newest sales.