Oculus has stopped selling VR headsets in Germany due to discussions with federal authorities.
You can no longer buy an Oculus VR headset in Germany. Facebook has voluntarily pulled the product from German retailers today in a move that seems related to the recent Oculus update that would require all new users to sign up for a Facebook account.
Last month, Oculus announced new changes to the way users experience games in VR. No longer would new users be prompted to make an Oculus account for their VR library, and instead, new users are prompted to create a Facebook account.
Oculus has been owned by Facebook since 2014, and it appears that the social media company has decided to take the reins with their virtual reality divisions. Oculus VR Studio, Spark AR, and Portal will all fall under the Facebook Reality Labs umbrella starting September 13, relegating “Oculus” to a mere brand name.
However, the Facebook login requirement seems to have irked German antitrust authorities. According to German news outlet Heise.de, Facebook halted Oculus sales due to “outstanding talks” with German officials.
“This is a temporary break due to outstanding talks with German supervisory authorities,” said a Facebook spokesperson. “We were not obliged to take this measure, but proactively interrupted the sale.”
The FAQ section on the German Oculus site has also been updated to explain their sudden departure from the market. “We have paused the sale of Oculus products in Germany due to pending discussions with German regulatory authorities. We cannot talk about details at the moment, but we are confident that sales can continue soon. “
Although no explanation was given, Heise believes that German consumer protection laws are to blame. A “coupling ban” law prevents companies from forcing users to purchase a different product or service than the one they’re purchasing–in this case, Oculus forcing users to create a Facebook account. Facebook is certainly arguing that the two are one in the same, and that such a requirement does not violate German laws.
Facebook has run afoul of German authorities before. In 2019, the Federal Cartel Office ordered Facebook not to merge data from German WhatsApp and Facebook users without those users’ express consent. A similar issue might also arise with Facebook’s plans for Oculus VR and its existing German users.
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