Yesterday, Facebook announced that Oculus headsets will soon require a Facebook account to use. The policy change comes into effect from October 1st for Rift and Quest newcomers. It will also be mandatory for every headset that Oculus releases in the future.
If you already own a Rift or Quest and want to keep using an Oculus account, it’ll work until January 1st, 2023. “Full functionality” will require a Facebook account, though, and it’s possible that you’ll lose access to some VR games and applications over time.
The announcement came out of nowhere, and Oculus users were immediately angry and disappointed. “What the fuck,” Junge Willmichregistrieren wrote. “Fuck you,” Michael Edwards added.“Yeah that’s going to be a no-go for me,” another Facebook user added.
Many users feel betrayed. Oculus was a startup founded by Palmer Luckey, Brendan Iribe, Michael Antonov and Nate Mitchell in 2012. Following a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, the company was acquired by Facebook for $2.3 billion in 2014.
Some people were understandably wary given that Facebook’s empire is built on data-driven advertising. Luckey assured skeptics on Reddit, however, that Oculus hardware wouldn’t require a Facebook login. In a separate comment, he promised that Oculus wouldn’t “track you, flash ads at you, or do anything invasive.”
Luckey left Facebook in 2017 and has subsequently created a ‘virtual border wall’ company called Anduril, which signed a contract with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) earlier this year. He’s no longer associated with Oculus, but responded to accusations yesterday that he was lying back in 2014.
“I want to make clear that those promises were approved by Facebook in that moment and on an ongoing basis, and I really believed it would continue to be the case for a variety of reasons,” he wrote on the r/Oculus subreddit. “In hindsight, the downvotes from people with more real-world experience than me were definitely justified.”
In its blog post, Oculus argued that the policy change will make it easier for people to find and play with their friends in virtual reality. The company highlighted Horizon, a Second Life-style platform announced last September, as a key beneficiary.
Pairing users with a Facebook account would make it easier to protect the growing Oculus community, the company said, and “offer additional integrity tools.” Oculus will replace its dedicated Code of Conduct with an updated version of Facebook’s Community Standards, for instance.
The company claims that this will offer “a more consistent way to report bad behavior” while still respecting the unique aspects of virtual reality.