When Facebook announced over the summer that Oculus accounts would need to be merged into a Facebook one, and new Oculus users would need a social media profile as default, that whipped up a storm among the XR community. Those requirements kicked in during October for the launch of Oculus Quest 2, and now Germany’s regulators have begun examining these new account linking rules.
Germany’s Federal Cartel Office (FCO) – or Bundeskartellamt – announced a few days ago that abuse proceedings had begun against Facebook, on the grounds of antitrust concerns and market dominance.
“In the future, the use of the new Oculus glasses requires the user to also have a Facebook account. Linking virtual reality products and the group’s social network in this way could constitute a prohibited abuse of dominance by Facebook,” said Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt in a statement.
“With its social network Facebook holds a dominant position in Germany and is also already an important player in the emerging but growing VR (virtual reality) market. We intend to examine whether and to what extent this tying arrangement will affect competition in both areas of activity.”
Since its acquisition of Oculus for $2 billion USD in 2014 Facebook had kept the VR arm and its social media platform separate when it came to accounts. But it did slowly integrate more social features along the way. Now, if you buy an Oculus Quest 2 you need a Facebook account to access the hardware and if you close the account down, that’s all your VR content gone.
This isn’t the first time Facebook and Germany have clashed either. Back in September, the company announced its had: “temporarily paused selling Oculus devices to consumers in Germany,” in response to FCO concerns. At present, that’s still in effect as there’s no way to ship the standalone headset to Germany on Oculus.com.
Even before that, during 2019 the Bundeskartellamt imposed extensive restrictions on Facebook because of the way it processed user data. This was because the social media giant was “extensively collecting and merging user data from different sources.” Proceedings for this case are pending, recently postponed to 26 March 2021.
As further concerns arise on Facebook’s growing monopoly of VR, VRFocus will keep you updated.