Signaling the end to any remaining degrees of separation between Facebook and its VR headset division, Oculus, today the social media company announced that it will be further integrating the two services. Coming this fall, the company will begin sunsetting stand-alone Oculus accounts as part of an effort to transition the entire Oculus ecosystem over to Facebook. This will start in October, when all new Oculus accounts and devices will have to sign up for a Facebook account, while support for existing stand-alone accounts will be retired entirely at the start of 2023.

Originally an acquisition for Facebook, the Oculus Rift and underlying Oculus software ecosystem were initially developed by the then-independent Oculus VR group. After acquiring the company for $2 Billion back in 2014, Facebook has for the last several years largely treated Oculus as a stand-alone entity, selling products under the Oculus brand and leaving Facebook integration an optional feature – a feature co-founder Palmer Luckey even guaranteed during the 2014 acquisition.

None the less, Oculus’s days as a stand-alone ecosystem are now coming to a close, as Facebook has laid out their plans to transition Oculus users over to Facebook accounts, and the significant social media repercussions that entails.

According to Facebook, winding-down Oculus accounts will be a two-part process for the company. Starting in October, all new accounts will need to be Facebook accounts – or more specifically, users will need a Facebook account to log into the Oculus ecosystem. Meanwhile current stand-alone Oculus account holders will be grandfathered in for a time on their existing devices, however any future unreleased devices, even when paired with an existing Oculus account, will still require a Facebook login.

Facebook will then maintain support for grandfathered accounts through the start of 2023. At that point the company will officially drop support for stand-alone Oculus accounts, and while the company is not threatening to immediately disconnect or disable non-Facebook users, “full functionality will require a Facebook account.” In particular:

We will take steps to allow you to keep using content you have purchased, though some games and apps may no longer work. This could be because they require a Facebook account or because a developer has chosen to no longer support the app or game you purchased.

Ultimately, for Facebook this marks the final step of the Oculus acquisition, more fully integrating the company and its systems into the larger Facebook ecosystem. Facebook’s primary strength as a service provider to end-users remains its social offerings, so the company cannot fully exploit those strengths so long as Oculus users remain outside the Facebook ecosystem. At the same time, this will also give the revenue-generating side of Facebook significantly more access to information about Oculus users, which the company will then be able to use to use for targeted advertising, usage tracking, and other purposes.

Source: Facebook

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  • Zyzix - Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - link

    In addition to the prescient 'I told you so' comments here, and focusing on the various usage profile leaks every time a company is sold, it's my sad duty to report recent news (August, 2020) that FB has become statistically tribalized to predominate usage by one of the major parties, and Twitter to the other.

    I don't know exactly how this one tribal presumption could work to one's disadvantage, other than maybe advertising that you don't want to see. But this is a drip, drip.

    We assume that a certain foreign country is big-data compiling profiles of every citizen on the planet. (E.g. Equifax breach May through July 2017; Office of Personnel Management data breach, May 7, 2014.) And is linking each profile to everyone else they know through app-snatched phone contact lists.

    It's not too difficult to forsee that if one criticises the policies, or makes fun of certain foreign leaders, one's relatives could be threatened with something true (drugs, sex, youth crime), that you don't even know about.

    Paranoia? A precursor event already happened to Sony, so I'd call it Futurism.
  • qlum - Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - link

    Personally my main gripe with requiring a facebook account is not as much that facebook tracks you / posts things all over, but rather that a facebook account cannot be tied to an online pseudonym. Or at least not officially and not without risk of losing your account.
  • Blaab1 - Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - link

    This seems horrendous. There isnt any logical reason to have a facebook account to be linked with occulus or any other VR game device. But remembering how Zukerberg has said that there will be a popup warning if someone links to a news story that is over 3 months old, seems expected. I have heard that its also supported by news media - I just dont understand how the history of story is a problem. It almost seems like a hambuger with whipped cream instead of ketchup situation, but sometimes ridiculous makes it pass the social censors and becomes ok anyway. I wonder if it will work? Or will the outrage force facebook to go back to be a social network instead of bullying folks to join or be satisfied when they get a cardboard smartphone add-on to get their VR satisfaction. It seems very close to breaking a law, im just not sure what one :/ How can you force someone to be a part of a social network because they also happen to be the umbrella organization for a popular $500 VR headset....or it wont work. Dont the Crips and the Bloods work this way? If you dont join us we will break your knees and damage your property. You better join or your safety is at risk. I wanna blame this on DJT but admittedly its a long shot....or is it?
  • Socius - Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - link

    Well I guess that means I’ll never be able to use one.
  • MattMe - Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - link

    Just to add to what most others have already stated - this is unacceptable to me. I own a Rift S and I will now be selling it to replace with one of the many excellent competitors available today. I already felt uneasy with Facebook owning Oculus, but the fact the accounts were not linked was enough for me at the time.
    I do not want to be forced to have or use a Facebook account, particularly not just to use hardware for products not owned or licensed by Facebook.

    I will also be advising friends and colleagues to avoid Oculus hardware going forward and encourage those with Oculus hardware to upgrade to a more trustworthy competitor.

    The sad thing is, I know this relatively small community of tech enthusiasts here at Anandtech will have little impact on the wider market. It is, after all, an echo chamber.
  • brucethemoose - Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - link

    On every tech site, gaming site, and forum I've visited, I haven't seen one person defend Facebook or even say "this is fine."

    The VR market is particularly depending on techy early adopters. Its not the end of Oculus for sure, but this is a bigger deal than your average internet nerd rage incident.
  • brucethemoose - Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - link

  • edzieba - Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - link

    Currently having an Oculus account but no Facebook account, the two would be functionally equivalent for me: One is an account on Facebook's servers used only for Oculus Home, the other is an account on Facebook's servers used only for Oculus Home. Different name, same thing. It's not like I'm going to suddenly start visiting Facebook and posting pictures voluntarily for no reason, or turn off the existing blocks on their webbug domains for general browsing.
  • alufan - Wednesday, August 19, 2020 - link

    Thats what you think now but wait till it happens and your seeing your adverts and spam from Facebook
  • edzieba - Thursday, August 20, 2020 - link

    They could do that already, as could any developer (and regardless of platform, e.g. a game sold on Steam can also contain adverts). At most, they could advertise.. other games to buy. Oh no, the exact same thing thing they're doing already and every other games store does!

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