In a move that has pissed-off fans across multiple realities, Oculus has announced that going forward, users will need to log into a Facebook account to access the full functionality of its virtual reality headset.
Via the Oculus Blog, the VR heavyweight has outlined a multi-stage timeline for changes to account logins. Beginning in October 2020, new Oculus users will require a Facebook account to log into their headset, and finalising January 1st 2023, when existing Oculus account holders are forced to merge their accounts with Facebook – less they lose functionality.
Oculus says that the account merge will ‘make it easier to find, connect, and play with friends in VR’ and allow for “more Facebook powered multiplayer and social experiences coming soon in VR, like Horizon”. Facebook Horizon gives users a massive playground to socialise with others, play games, and create whatever they want all within a virtual world. It sounds like a discarded BlackMirror plot to me.
Oculus will ‘take steps’ to ensure purchased software is still accessible after the 2023 cut-off date, but can’t guarantee that this will be the case, especially with third-party utilities.
Unsurprisingly, the response to this news has been a PR nightmare for Oculus, with many headset owners taking to social media to vent their anger at the ultimatum. The Facebook/Oculus integration has been a point of contention within the VR community since the social-media mega-corporation acquired Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion (pocket change for The Zuck), with users concerned about privacy breaches and other unethical practices.
This news comes at an intriguing time for Oculus, with the highly anticipated Oculus Quest 2 potentially releasing in the next few months. It will be quite interesting to see if the account merge will be a deal-breaker and cause users to jump ship to other options like the HTC Vive and Valve Index, or if the industry-leading tech and functionality of the Oculus Quest 2 will be enough to smooth things over.