Facebook-owned Oculus is starting to pivot away from the sole use of Oculus accounts on its VR devices, and will eventually end support for Oculus Accounts all together.
Instead, Oculus the company is looking to make Facebook accounts the go-to account service for its entire line of headsets. The full switchover on the player side of the fence isn’t expected to take place until 2023, but Oculus has already announced a series of gradual changes how its accounts work to ready for that transition.
Folks signing up for a new account will, starting in October 2020, need to do so through their existing Facebook account. Those that already have Oculus accounts, meanwhile, will have the option to coast on their current setup until that full 2023 switch or can opt to permanently merge their Oculus and Facebook accounts ahead of that.
Declining to do so won’t render current VR headsets unplayable, only limit access to some features, but all future Oculus devices will require a Facebook account.
This looks to also at least partially apply to developer accounts. Developers can find more on those specific changes in Oculus’ dev portal, but in short it looks like developers will only have access to a limited set of features for in-headset testing should they decide not to merge their accounts with their personal Facebook accounts.
In order to access the full gamut of testing tools, devs will need to use either a Test User account, where they can download apps uploaded by their organization and “ test features such as Entitlement Checks, In-App Purchases, and social features, in addition to playtesting your application” or merge a personal Facebook account with their developer account to “friend users outside of your organization and purchase content from the Oculus Store” in addition to what’s offered by the Test Account.
“There will also be an option to continue logging into current devices for development purposes using your unmerged Oculus Developer account, but with limited functionality,” explains that post. “For example, you will not be able to test new, updated, or social features, which require a Test User account or a Facebook account.”
Logging into the Oculus Developer Dashboard, meanwhile, looks to remain unchanged by Oculus’ larger shift toward Facebook accounts.
The biggest changes look to be user-facing. On that side of the fence, once January 1, 2023 rolls around, un-merged Oculus accounts will no longer be supported. That won’t render Oculus VR headsets unplayable by any means, but Oculus warns that some games may no longer work for those users as “they include features that require a Facebook account or because a developer has chosen to no longer support the app or game you purchased.” On top of that, all future Oculus device launches will skip right ahead to requiring a Facebook account.
The full post has more on what to expect from the change, and notes as well that merging accounts will let Facebook use info about VR to “provide and improve your experience,” an addition that, given Facebook’s privacy background and despite Facebook’s assurances that this was a partially privacy-driven change, has some concerned.
There’s also the fact that a Facebook account requirement makes Oculus a potential no-go for people who have left Facebook’s ecosystem over privacy concerns or the company’s complicated history of forcing legal name usage on Facebook, sometimes in cases where doing so is inaccurate or unsafe for the people behind the profiles.