The official announcement came August 18, 2020: Oculus users would soon be required to connect via an active Facebook account or be locked out of future VR experiences with their device of choice. Though this move should not have come as much of a surprise – Facebook has garnered criticism for its data collecting tendencies in the past – yet still the backlash wailed and moaned about the impending doom of VR being all Zuck’s fault.
What does the connecting of Facebook profiles and Oculus accounts actually mean for the average user? While some details remain to be seen, others have already been announced and are all set to be introduced next month. Current Oculus accounts will remain active until 2023, at which point all Oculus users will be required to connect to the device via an active Facebook account. It is claimed this will be an initial log-in only and won’t pressure the user to keep floating between the two worlds, at least somewhat reflecting Palmer Luckey’s promise to Oculus supporters upon its sale to Facebook.
“I guarantee that you won’t need to log in to your Facebook account every time you wanna use the Oculus Rift.” – Palmer Luckey, Oculus Co-Founder, 2014
As many users and fans revolt at yet another sign of Facebook’s creep into all areas of Oculus use, some going so far as to suggest a class action lawsuit, others in the industry are using the opportunity to detail how they see Facebook stifling the development of the VR industry in general. Few technologies outside of social media can reveal as much about their users than virtual reality, a fact that quite clearly drew Facebook to purchase Oculus in the first place.
Just how fully tied together a user’s Oculus and Facebook use will become remains to be seen. It is clear, however, that this move by the social media giant, and the resulting backlash, is likely to encourage a healthy wave of new and reinvigorated competitors – and that, no doubt, will be a positive thing for VR.