From the moment Facebook acquired Oculus in 2014 we’ve been expecting this news, and it’s finally come. Starting in October, you’ll need a Facebook account to log into Oculus virtual reality devices, including all Oculus hardware being released in the future, the company announced on Tuesday.
Things are a little more complicated for people who have already purchased an Oculus device and created an Oculus profile for it. In October, you’ll be invited to log into Facebook and merge the account with your Oculus profile. If you decline, you’ll be able to continue using your standalone Oculus profile until January 1, 2023, at which point the account will be retired.
“If you choose not to merge your accounts at that time, you can continue using your device, but full functionality will require a Facebook account,” the post explains. “We will take steps to allow you to keep using content you have purchased, though we expect some games and apps may no longer work. This could be because they include features that require a Facebook account or because a developer has chosen to no longer support the app or game you purchased.”
The move has been slammed by commenters on the Oculus blog (which is somewhat amusing because you need a Facebook account to post there) but honestly, the biggest surprise is that it’s taken this long. Facebook acquired Oculus all the way back in 2014, and always made clear that it did so to help drive VR-powered social experiences. The network has slowly been building more social features into its virtual reality world that demand a Facebook account. The company’s Rec Room-like social space dubbed “Facebook Horizon” plans to launch in closed beta later this year.
That said, it’s not surprising to see a backlash. The passionate Oculus community freaked out when Facebook scooped up the Kickstarter-funded company six long years ago, and the concerns we wrote about then apply just as much now:
“Here’s a big one: Why don’t people like Facebook? Maybe because Facebook doesn’t respect them. Facebook’s privacy settings are a mess, they’ve shown a reckless disregard toward even allowing you any semblance of privacy, and it’s all headed up by a person who has repeatedly stuck his foot in his mouth when discussing these very same issues.
On top of that, there’s the whole “If you’re not buying the product, you are the product” philosophy—Facebook data-mines your info and sells it wholesale to advertisers. What kind of ad-integration (if any) will we see on the Rift? What kind of data will Facebook take away from our play-sessions?
It all sounds so tin-foil hat, and yet considering Facebook’s history, it’s not surprising people are worried.”
While the Oculus blog post announcing the change focuses on shared social experiences and community standards, it also makes clear that merging Facebook and Oculus accounts will also result in a more highly targeted ad experience.
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“As we’ve previously shared, when you log into Oculus using your Facebook account, Facebook will use information related to your use of VR and other Facebook products to provide and improve your experience,” the post says. “This information is also used to show you personalized content, including ads. For example, we might show you recommendations for Oculus Events you might like, ads about Facebook apps and technologies, or ads from developers for their VR apps.”
The Oculus Quest currently reigns as our pick for the best future-proof VR headset, thanks to its PC-or-not versatility, and to its being the first untethered headset that’s worth a damn. Rumors of a new Oculus Quest coming this fall have been leaking left and right. If it winds up launching after this new policy takes place, you’ll need to use a Facebook account to use it, even if you have an existing Oculus account.