FTC Antitrust Watchdogs Reportedly Investigate Meta’s VR Division

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 talking to third-party VR developers last year who were concerned about Meta’s business practices. It is one of many studies examining Meta’s dominance in the small but growing VR market.

The Bloomberg report references well-known controversies surrounding Meta (formerly Facebook) and its VR division (formerly Oculus). Regulators have reportedly asked developers whether the Oculus app store discriminates against third-party apps whose features overlap with its own offering, and they have apparently questioned Meta’s strategy of selling the Meta Quest headset (formerly Oculus Quest). at a price of $299 that heavily undercuts the price of other VR headsets. The FTC declined to comment on Bloomberg‘s report.

The FTC has reportedly already opened an investigation into Meta’s acquisition of Within, the company behind VR fitness app Supernatural. The United States Department of Justice also reportedly investigated similar claims At the end of 2020, German regulators publicly announced an investigation around the same time.

Until now, VR has received little attention compared to other Meta divisions. The FTC is currently filing an antitrust suit against the company over its Instagram and WhatsApp acquisition; after a setback last year, a judge revived the case earlier this week. But as Meta begins to emphasize its role as steward of a VR-heavy “metaverse,” the area may also need more legal research.

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