Oculus have announced that for users to keep using their devices, users will need to log-in and merge with a Facebook account from October 2020.
The blog post on the Oculus website explains that first time Oculus VR device users will need to log in with a Facebook account, while existing users will have the option to merge their Oculus and Facebook accounts. They can also not merge their accounts, and continue using it for two years (with support for those accounts ending January 1st 2023).
Accounts can still be used after this, but they will not have the “full functionality” of Facebook accounts. Oculus also state they “will take steps to allow you to keep using content you have purchased, though we expect some games and apps may no longer work.”
Oculus explain some games may include features that require a Facebook account, or if the developer “has chosen to no longer support the app or game you purchased.” Future games on Oculus will require a Facebook account.
The reasons for the change are boasted as convenience of a single way to log-in, and make it easier to find friends to play online with via Facebook. Oculus also boast that it will allow them to “introduce more Facebook powered multiplayer and social experiences coming soon in VR, like Horizon, where you can explore, play, and create worlds.”
Oculus claim that the majority of users are already using a Facebook and their features such as “chats, parties, and events, or to tune into live experiences in Oculus Venues.” Players will also be able to livestream and share gameplay clips via Facebook, and use their VR avatar on other Facebook apps.
Users can set their VR Profile to show their Facebook name visible to them, along with having control over what their VR Profile posts on Facebook. In the future, users will also be able to use multiple Facebook accounts in cases where family or friends share the same head-set (though keeping their information separate).
The merge will also allow Oculus to use Facebook’s Community Standards instead of their own Oculus Code of Conduct. They state “This will allow us to continue to take the unique considerations of VR into account while offering a more consistent way to report bad behavior, hold people accountable, and help create a more welcoming environment across our platforms.”
In the FAQ segment (in full here), Oculus explain exactly what user’s data is being used for.
“What happens to my data when I log into an Oculus device with my Facebook account?
When you log into your Oculus device with your Facebook account or merge your Oculus and Facebook accounts, we will use information related to your use of Oculus and Facebook for purposes such as:
Providing and improving your experience across Facebook products
Promoting safety and integrity on our services
Showing you personalized content, including ads, across Facebook products. This could include recommendations for Oculus Events you might like, ads about Facebook apps and technologies, or ads from developers for their VR apps.”
Examples include the VR Apps used, Facebook friend lists, “Information like your name and messaging metadata for chats in VR, so that you have access to your chats across devices,” “Information about your VR activity, like which apps you use, to show you ads for other VR apps you may like,” and more.
Judging by the comments to both the tweet and the blog post- users are not happy. Many are accusing Facebook of inlating their user numbers, and concerns over the privacy of the social media platform. Several have stated they will switch to competitors, or demand a refund [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], with one user even getting a response from HTC Vive.
Facebook bought Oculus in 2014 for $2 billion USD. Palmer Luckey, the co-founder of Oculus VR and creator of both the original concept and prototypes for the Oculus Rift headset left parent company Facebook in March 2017.
Later speculation started that he had been fired for donating to a “pro-Trump political organization” that created memes in support of Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton in the United States 2016 election. Co-founder Nate Mitchell left Oculus in August 2019. Co-Founder Andrew Scott Reisse died in 2013, after being struck by a car.