The fact that the Oculus Quest 2 requires a Facebook account to use has been a point of contention for a lot of VR fans out there, and now it seems that governments are beginning to take notice. Today, Germany’s Bundeskartellamt (Federal Cartel Office), which is responsible for investigating and enforcing matters of competition law, announced that it has “initiated abuse proceedings against Facebook to examine the linkage between Oculus virtual reality products and the social network and Facebook platform.”
Essentially, it sounds like German regulators are worried that, given Facebook’s dominant position in the social media space and its growing influence in the area of VR, requiring that Oculus Quest 2 be tired to Facebook accounts could be anti-competitive behavior.
“In the future, the use of the new Oculus glasses requires the user to also have a Facebook account,” Bundeskartellamt president Andreas Mundt said in a statement today. “Linking virtual reality products and the group’s social network in this way could constitute a prohibited abuse of dominance by Facebook. With its social network Facebook holds a dominant position in Germany and is also already an important player in the emerging but growing VR (virtual reality) market. We intend to examine whether and to what extent this tying arrangement will affect competition in both areas of activity.”
We may not know the results of the Bundeskartellamt investigation for a while, but today the agency also gave us an update on other current proceedings against Facebook. These proceedings date back to early 2019, when the Bundeskartellamt “imposed extensive restrictions” on how the company processes user data. Specifically, Facebook was barred from “extensively collecting and merging user data from different sources.”
Following a couple of emergency appeals on the part of Facebook, the company doesn’t have to change how it processes data just yet, with a new court date set for the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court for March 26th, 2021. So, between this new antitrust investigation regarding Oculus and the currently pending suit regarding the way Facebook processes user data, it seems that the world’s biggest social media company has the Bundeskartellamt breathing down its neck. We’ll let you know how everything shakes out, so stay tuned for more.