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VR insider highlights the negative side of Facebook’s Oculus acquisition

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VR’s most powerful emerging platform is transforming the VR from an experimental indie space into a corporate monopoly that’s blurring the line between accounts and identity.

Seven years ago we said “put down the pitchforks” when Facebook acquired Oculus. Pick them back up. The Oculus platform is becoming rather unsavoury.

Has Facebook’s acquisition yielded anything positive? Sure. I imagine we have Facebook Reality Labs to thank for the popular Oculus Quest. With the Oculus Quest 2 ushering in a wireless, cheaper, and more accessible VR for more mainstream uptake, I’m struggling to see how Facebook won’t dominate the future VR space.

Unfortunately, that only makes the behaviour of the platform’s owners potentially more damaging in the long-term.

With the Oculus platform wanting a monopoly on apps covering everything from fitness, cinema, and virtual desktops, it’s reportedly not being shy about being anti-competitive in securing the future for its copycats. The CEO of VR fitness app YUR claims not only has the platform copied their app with Oculus Move, but they were outright blocked from the store, had their game broken by firmware updates four times, and had four attempts at poaching their CTO.

In more consumer-related news, he also reports that you can’t escape the coming Facebookification of the service. Facebook accounts will be mandatory in 2023 and already are if you own an Oculus Quest 2. Delete, deactivate, or have your Facebook account banned at any time will lose you access to all your games and progress.

Whilst you can argue Playstation, Nintendo, Microsoft and Steam accounts work in the exact same way in our digital license present, one, Facebook is a lot more information-hungry, and two, this is an account now linked to your very identity. Many users are actively fleeing Facebook due to the social media behemoth’s negative impact on society and the world at large, that’s no longer an option if you want to play VR games on the Oculus platform.

Some users on social media posited that you could create a second or dummy Facebook account just for Oculus purchases, but creating a second account is in fact against the Oculus terms of service and is even getting people banned. Meanwhile, creating a dummy Facebook account (just for Oculus games, or for any other purpose) without using a “real name” is also against their terms and conditions.

If banned, you can’t even create a new account without violating the terms of service. There is no escaping sharing your real account, lest you lose your library.

It was also reported that people were getting banned for using multiple Oculus headsets on the same Facebook account. Oculus apologised for “providing incorrect information” in the customer support screenshots, saying that “Using the same Facebook account on two or more Oculus headsets simultaneously will NOT get your account “banned.”

The cherry on top is a clause in the terms of service that prevents you from even being able to mount a class-action lawsuit. Charming stuff, Facebook.

It’s all shaping up to be a truly ugly approach to what was once an explorative, experimental, and homegrown space for indie devs to explore the possibility space of the new technology. We can only hope Facebook makes some major reversals before the Facebook VR monopoly they carve out for themselves is just too off-putting to truly take VR mainstream.

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