The news Oculus will make Facebook accounts mandatory for all new VR headset users didn't go down well even when it was announced back in August, and on Sunday Oculus confirmed the newly-released Quest 2 would require a Facebook login to function. Well, since the release of the Quest 2 on 13th October, that reaction has worsened, as several users have reported their headsets are currently unusable due to Facebook account merging problems.
The issues seem to mainly affect those who created a new Facebook account, then immediately merged it with their Oculus account... only to have Facebook issue a suspension. Facebook's account creation process requires users to enter accurate personal information and photo ID, yet despite entering this information several Oculus Quest 2 owners found their accounts swiftly disabled.
"I wasn't a fan of creating a Facebook account after deleting mine five years ago but for the sake of the Quest 2 decided to get back on," thespieler11 posted on Reddit. "I entered all my real information and had my account immediately disabled. Now I have a $300 paperweight until someone from Facebook decides the fate of VR for me."
Another Oculus Quest 2 customer called Steve told Eurogamer he had experienced similar issues.
"I created a brand new Facebook account (I've never used the site before and would never have created an account without being forced to for this device) and used all real information that was required," Steve said. "Once I'd set up my Quest and played the demo intro app I decided to link my Oculus account to my Facebook account so I could see if any of my past purchases would be usable on my Quest.
"At the same time while I was not using the Quest I logged into [the] Facebook website to lock down my profile as I had no intention of using the social media site more than was needed and within minutes of merging accounts and changing profile settings my account was banned without any reason given or cause I can think of."
While the reason for the account suspensions is unclear, customer reports on social media suggest Facebook dislikes any accounts with a lack of activity, or it could be an issue with Facebook's part-automated, part-manual ID verification system (which Facebook says may take longer than normal due to staffing shortages). Until the bug and existing Facebook suspensions are resolved by Oculus customer support, affected users are effectively stuck in limbo: unable to use their Quest 2s or access their Oculus library, unable to use another Oculus device, and unable to create a new Facebook account, having already entered their unique personal details. The situation has driven some to refund their Quest 2 headsets, although they are still locked out of their Oculus libraries.
Eurogamer contacted Oculus for comment and received the following statement from a Facebook spokesperson:
"We're only seeing a very small number of Oculus users run into login issues, and if they do, our customer service team is available and committed to working with them directly. Many of these folks are turning to Twitter and Reddit for guidance, and our customer service team has been responding to them on those channels.
"People should contact Oculus Support if they're having issues and our team is available 24/7 to help: https://support.oculus.com/885981024820727/."
Sure enough, it seems Oculus has been contacting those reporting issues and some people have had the problem resolved, but plenty have been left unhappy and distressed by the situation.
"I am grateful being back to normal, but I must say this was a pretty crappy situation," northband wrote on Reddit after their account was restored. "Like others I was pretty frustrated due to the lack of info. Even having been restored there has been no info or updates."
Others, such as Steve, have not been so lucky.
"Oculus Support response has been pathetic in this case," he told Eurogamer. "Took them 24 hours to reply with a follow up question about account names I already gave them in the original ticket. Now they say they are looking into it but that was 12 hours ago and I'm not holding my breath as from what I heard they have no power whatsoever over Facebook account policy/banning.
"Still unable to use my Quest 2 which will be going back to John Lewis pretty soon."
As the Facebook account issues are only affecting those who recently signed up, the pool of people experiencing this problem is likely to be quite small - but the consequences are pretty dire, and it must be immensely disappointing for those expecting to use their brand new Quest 2 out the box. Without having to chat to customer support for several days, that is.
Beyond the bricking issues, it seems the Facebook account requirement is creating confusion and problems for a range of customers: in the process of setting up their Quest 2s a number of people have accidentally merged their Oculus accounts with a family member's Facebook, a process the Oculus FAQs say "cannot be reversed". Those who accidentally linked accounts will now have to use that Facebook account on all their Oculus devices, and until Oculus introduces a system to allow multiple users to log in on one device, they're stuck with the mistakenly-merged account. On top of this, people who already had Facebook account suspensions have been caught out by the mandatory Facebook login, and those who deleted their old Facebook accounts have reported trouble reactivating them (with one user told to verify a login from 51 years ago, before they were born).
It's been six years since Facebook purchased Oculus for $2bn, and the recent moves towards Facebook account integration have been explained by Oculus as a way for people to "find and connect with friends, while still keeping a separate VR profile".
"We know that social VR has so much more to offer, and this change will make it possible to integrate many Facebook-powered social features, like Horizon," the recent blog post explained. "Using a VR profile that is backed by a Facebook account and authentic identity helps us protect our community and makes it possible to offer additional integrity tools."
Given the Facebook login requirement for the Quest 2 already seems to have created a variety of issues for customers, I imagine things could also be a little rough when support for Oculus accounts ends for all users on 1st January 2023. At least Oculus has over two years to prepare for that.