Starting in October, new users of the Oculus virtual reality gaming platform will need to log in with a Facebook account, the company announced today. Current users will need to merge their Oculus accounts with a Facebook account within the next two years to maintain the “full functionality” of their systems after January 1, 2023.
Facebook purchased Oculus for $US2 ($3) billion in 2014, immediately setting off a firestorm of criticism from consumers. Turns out the kind of people willing to shell out hundreds of dollars on a virtual reality headset aren’t the biggest Facebook users, so the move was always going to cause some friction. In the years since, Facebook’s meddling with the gaming platform has been minimal, but this announcement marks a dramatic shift in the relationship.
Today’s news was immediately met with pushback from the Oculus community, with talks of refunds and some even bringing up class-action lawsuits. While these are obviously hyperbolic responses to a worrying move, they show just how deeply the userbase’s dislike for Facebook runs. When Kotaku asked Oculus about the user response, a representative simply pointed towards the official announcement about its potential benefits.
“Giving people a single way to log into Oculus — using their Facebook account and password — will make it easier to find, connect, and play with friends in VR,” the statement reads. “We know that social VR has so much more to offer, and this change will make it possible to integrate many of the features people know and love on Facebook.”
While Facebook will provide a typical array of privacy options to Oculus users, the anxiety over this decision isn’t entirely unwarranted. Facebook is one of the largest harvesters of personal data on the internet. As recently as 2018, the social media platform was embroiled in controversy when it allowed a third-party application developed by British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to collect information on millions of users for, among other things, the political campaigns of Donald Trump and Texas senator Ted Cruz.
Users who already have Oculus accounts will be able to continue using them separately until January 1, 2023, at which point they will need to merge their account with a Facebook account to continue accessing everything their VR system has to offer.
“What this means is that we will take steps to allow you to keep using content you have purchased, though some games and apps may no longer work,” a Facebook rep explained to Kotaku upon further inquiry. “This could be because they require a Facebook account or because a developer has chosen to no longer support the app or game you purchased. Sideloading apps will still be possible, so long as it is done in accordance with our developer policies.”
Further details on what exactly users who opt out of signing in with a Facebook account will lose will be shared as we near the 2023 cutoff date. As for the future, a Facebook login will be required for all Oculus products, including the reported follow-up to the all-in-one Oculus Quest.