The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and several US states have launched an investigation into Meta Platforms’ Oculus for allegedly violating antitrust laws. Bloomberg sources said this on condition of anonymity.
Although the market for VR devices and applications is still small, Meta Platforms, which has bet on the Metaverse, is already suspected of monopolizing it. The agency interviewed several virtual reality application developers to uncover evidence of discrimination in the implementation of software whose functions matched Meta’s own applications. Questions were also raised about the pricing policy and sales strategy of headsets: the cost of Oculus Quest 2 is $ 299, similar devices from HTC and other brands are more expensive.
The antitrust investigation could become an obstacle to the implementation of plans by Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg (Mark Zuckerberg) to build the so-called Metaverse – a digital space with access via virtual and augmented reality devices. He is confident that such devices will become people’s main means of communication, replacing cell phones and likely even partially replacing some forms of face-to-face communication.
Some developers have reported that Meta is using its power to oppose developers of games and services for Oculus. Accordingly, the company copies the most promising projects and makes some applications more difficult. Yur shared how in 2019 it released an application that acts as a fitness tracker for Oculus that stopped working properly with a software platform update; The Oculus Move app was later released with similar features, original product developer Cix Liv said.
Developer Guy Godin released an app for streaming content from a PC desktop to a headset, and when he added the ability to stream PC games to Oculus Quest in 2019, the platform threatened to remove his app if the feature would continue. Shortly after, a similar feature appeared in the platform’s own Oculus Link app.
For the initiators of the investigation, however, not only direct conflicts with the developers are of interest. Oculus accounted for 75% of global VR headset sales in the first quarter of 2021, according to Counterpoint Research, more than doubling from 34% a year earlier. Like smartphones, VR apps are distributed through the Oculus Quest Store and all transactions are subject to a 30% transaction fee – similar approaches by Google and Apple have already attracted the attention of antitrust authorities around the world.