The US Federal Trade Commission and at least three states are investigating Meta for antitrust violations in its virtual reality division, according to Bloomberg. The report says the FTC and attorneys general from New York, Tennessee, and North Carolina began speaking last year with third-party VR developers who have concerns about Meta’s business practices. It’s one of multiple probes into Meta’s dominance in the small but growing market of VR.
The Bloomberg report references well-known controversies around Meta (formerly Facebook) and its VR division (formerly Oculus). Regulators have reportedly asked developers if the Oculus app store discriminates against third-party apps whose features overlap with its own offerings, and they’ve apparently questioned Meta’s strategy of selling the Meta Quest (formerly Oculus Quest) headset at a $299 price point that heavily undercuts the price of other VR headsets. The FTC declined to comment on Bloomberg
The FTC has allegedly already opened a probe into Meta’s acquisition of Within, the company behind VR fitness app Supernatural. The US Justice Department also reportedly investigated similar claims in late 2020. German regulators publicly announced an investigation around the same time.
So far, VR has still gotten little attention compared to other Meta divisions. The FTC is currently pursuing an antitrust lawsuit against the company over its acquisition of Instagram and WhatsApp; after a setback last year, a judge revived the suit earlier this week. But as Meta has begun emphasizing its role as a steward of a VR-heavy “metaverse,” the area may invite more legal scrutiny as well.