Owners of the brand-new Oculus Quest 2—the first VR headset which requires a Facebook account to use—are finding themselves screwed out of their new purchases by Facebook’s account verification system.
As first reported by UploadVR this week, some Oculus 2 owners are finding that Facebook’s reportedly AI-powered account verification system is demanding some users upload a photo before they can proceed with logging in. Others who have previously suspended their Facebook accounts are getting insta-banned upon reactivation and reported they were subsequently unable to create a new account, or said they were locked out upon trying to merge their old Oculus usernames with their Facebook accounts. Facebook’s failure prompt gave no way for users to appeal directly, essentially turning the $300 units into expensive bricks.
On the Oculus subreddit, one user reported that they had uploaded a photo ID to Facebook and received a response stating that “we have already reviewed this decision and it can’t be reversed.”
The Oculus support team tweeted that a “small number” of customers were experiencing issues and that any affected buyers should open a support ticket. (As UploadVR noted, some users on Reddit complained that Oculus’s handling of the situation has been slow or ineffective.)
A Facebook spokesperson told the Verge that users affected by the problem will not permanently lose access to their previous purchases: “Someone may temporarily experience an issue accessing content if they have trouble logging in to Quest 2 with their Facebook account, but they will be able to access their content once those login issues are resolved.”
The Oculus Quest 2 was a mostly well-received upgrade from the original Quest, which itself was an impressive advancement in VR tech. Dissatisfaction with Facebook’s ownership of the company, however, has been persistent.
Oculus owners were far from thrilled when Facebook bought the company in 2014 for a reported $2-3 billion, viewing it as a betrayal of the original vision of Oculus as an affordable, high-end headset for gamers. The decision to force owners to log in to future Oculus headsets with Facebook last year was met with something more resembling open outrage, not just because users felt forced into linking the accounts but because Facebook announced it would collect user data to target ads (both within the headset to recommend new apps and events and, presumably, to feed their sprawling ad ecosystem). The only real assurance Facebook gave was that it wouldn’t start snapping photos of the interior of users’ houses.
Indie developers have also warned that Facebook, currently facing down federal and state antitrust investigations, has immense power to dictate terms to production companies, steal ideas from popular apps, take 30% commissions from in-app purchases, and prevent users from breaking out of Facebook’s walled garden. Congressional investigators probing reports of anticompetitive behavior by the company have flagged the mandatory Facebook account requirements as a possible infraction, writing in a recent report that “conditioning access to a product or service in which a firm has market power to the use of a separate product or service is anticompetitive.”