Oculus will soon require all of its virtual reality headset users to sign up with a Facebook account. The Facebook-owned company says it will start removing support for separate Oculus accounts in October, although users can maintain an existing account until January 1st, 2023. All users can maintain a distinct “VR profile” with a separate friends list.
Starting later this year, you’ll only be able to sign up for an Oculus account through Facebook. If you already have an account, you’ll be prompted to permanently merge your account. If you don’t, you’ll be able to use the headset normally until 2023, at which point official support will end. Old headsets using non-linked accounts will still work, but some games and apps may no longer function. Developers can keep using an unlinked developer account without social functionality, and the Oculus for Business platform uses a separate login process that will remain unchanged.
Facebook also says that all future unreleased Oculus devices will require a Facebook login, even if you’ve got a separate account already. The company is widely expected to announce a new version of its Oculus Quest headset this fall, and that policy would likely apply to it.
Facebook has been slowly integrating Oculus’ platform after buying the company in 2014. In late 2019, it added new VR social features requiring a Facebook account and began using data gathered through Oculus in ads. The divisions shared information well before that, a fact that has concerned critics of Facebook data collection practices.
In 2018, Facebook confirmed that it could do things like ban linked spam accounts across the platforms, but it has denied invasive tracking of users’ behavior. And while Facebook’s targeted advertising has drawn criticism, it’s not rolling out any new ads on the Oculus platform right now. This new policy removes a final layer of separation between Oculus and Facebook accounts, though, and it forces anyone who’s not on the core Facebook service to finally sign up.