And then I go and spoil it all by saying something stupid like “Log in with your Facebook account!”
–Somethin’ Stupid, lyrics slightly altered
I remember back when Facebook bought Oculus back in 2014 and the panic it tended to induce in people. The quotes I gathered at the time indicated that some people did not like Facebook. I am not sure why, given all they had done for gaming up to that point, like… um…
Oh yeah, social gaming, and that crash when the accurtate description of the average game on the service became “spammy piece of shit,” was still living large in our collective memories back then. FarmVille!
But we don’t hate Facebook as much now… oh, right… yeah, Zuckerberg’s decision that money from people seeking to subvert democracy and spread false rumors spends just as well as money from any other product has not made him any more popular.
At least, however, he seemed to be content to leave Oculus and its VR headset business alone. That was likely because the VR market has yet to meet early expectations. CCP didn’t get out of the VR space because business there was booming. So Oculus has been able to improve its hardware over time as they continued to sell units at a decent, if more modest, rate. That latest model from them is better, smaller, cheaper, and no longer requires so many connections to your PC. All of that is likely to make VR more viable in the market.
Things have been quiet enough that you might have even forgotten that Facebook bought Oculus… until this week.
This week it was announced that Oculus users would eventually have to migrate to using a Facebook account to log in. The full announcement is here. The crux of it is:
Starting in October 2020:
Everyone using an Oculus device for the first time will need to log in with a Facebook account.
If you are an existing user and already have an Oculus account, you will have the option to log in with Facebook and merge your Oculus and Facebook accounts.
If you are an existing user and choose not to merge your accounts, you can continue using your Oculus account for two years.
Starting In January 2023:
We will end support for Oculus accounts.
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.
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.
They are billing this as an ease of use and improved experience, but a statement in that post seems a little more on point as to why they are going this route:
…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. 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.
You will be in the Facebook targeted advertisement ecosystem, which is where Facebook makes its money. You get to be both customer and product.
Now, does this really change anything? Theoretically, since Facebook owns Oculus, your account was a Facebook account already. But I suspect that it wasn’t fully integrated into the Facebook authentication services. Facebook, like Google and Apple, has made their authentication system available to other services. And I actually us Google for a few things, as I have 2FA setup on my main Google account.
But would I use Facebook? With the way that the company has shown itself to be over the last few years? Maybe not.
I wouldn’t avoid getting an Oculus VR headset because of this, but I also wouldn’t put it on the list of things in favor of getting one either.