Facebook Being Probed In Completion Regulator In Germany Over Its Oculus VR Devices

German investigators are investigating the social media giant Facebook in relation to the company’s virtual reality headset – the Oculus Quest.

Facebook has made it mandatory for an owner of the Oculus Quest 2 to have a working account on the social media which has been criticised severely by VR fans and reviewers. According to officials of the anti-competition authority of Germany, that mandatory requirement imposed by Facebook could amount to  the company misusing its dominant market position.

“We intend to examine whether and to what extent this… arrangement will affect competition in both areas of activity,” the agency said.

Prior to the launch of the Quest 2 headset, Facebook allowed owners of the previous version of the Oculus headset from the VR company of the same name, which the social media company had acquired in 2014, were allowed to log in with their Oculus accounts. However Facebook has now made it mandatory for new users to log in using a working Facebook account only and has plans to reduce support for the older Oculus accounts over time.

The performance and low price compared to rivals of the Oculus Quest 2 have generated wide praise which has raised speculation about the possibility of Facebook selling the devcies at a loss.

Since Facebook is already a dominant player in the social media market in Germany, therefore it has initiated the inquiry said the German regulator The Bundeskartellamt. It added that Facebook was also now “an important player in the emerging but growing VR (virtual reality) market”.

Concerns over not being able to meet regulations have prompted Facebook to voluntarily stopped selling Oculus headsets in the country. The company has previously been intimated not to combine different data sets from multiple services that it owns and this issue is still pending before courts in Germany.

“The fact that Facebook has resorted to various legal remedies is not surprising in view of the significance which our proceedings have for the group’s business model,” Bundeskartellamt’s President Andreas Mundt said.

“Nevertheless, the resulting delay in proceedings is of course regrettable for competition and consumers.”

“While Oculus devices are not currently available for sale in Germany, we will cooperate fully with the Bundeskartellamt and are confident we can demonstrate that there is no basis to the investigation,” Facebook said.

There has been slow and steady growth of the VR industry which has been driven in part by the success of the Oculus platform and competitors such as the Valve Index.

Interest in the technology among some gamers has been fuelled by a number of high profile virtual reality game releases including Half-Life: Alyx, Star Wars Squadrons, and the planned support for VR by Microsoft Flight Simulator.

The market of the devices was however hit in the first half of the year by a lack of supply, according to analyst firm CCS Insight. The firm however projected that the growth in the industry will be strong for a long time in the future.

“It’s worth pointing out that an almost flat market is a good result in this extraordinary year,” analyst Marina Koytcheva wrote in a blog post this week on the state of the VR and augmented reality (AR) market. For example, she pointed out a 15 per cent drop this year for the global mobile phone market.

(Adapted from BBCcom)

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