It’s time to kiss ad-free VR goodbye. In an effort to turn Oculus Quest into a “self-sustaining platform,” Facebook is testing ads in some Quest apps, including the game Blaston (which costs $10). The change comes just a month after Facebook added advertisements to its Oculus mobile app.
In Facebook’s blog post announcing the change, the company states that it wants “feedback from developers and the community.” That feedback is coming in droves as VR gamers bombard Oculus Support with complaints. It’s hard to imagine any other outcome—VR gamers are already sick of how Facebook encroaches on the Oculus platform, and for whatever reason, Facebook decided to test VR ads on a paid app (the company says it’s testing ads in a “couple of other apps,” which we can’t find).
So how do Oculus Quest ads look? Well, they look annoying, popping up on in-game surfaces like little posters. Users can point their controller toward the ad to open it or save it for later. Facebook also includes controls to hide or report ads, though these settings hide behind a fly-out menu.
Like all Facebook ads, Oculus Quest ads are personalized using your private data. The company has always used Oculus headsets to collect data from users (and recently mandated that Oculus headsets must be linked to a Facebook account), but this is the first time that your gaming data may be thrown back at you though an in-game ad.
Facebook says that it doesn’t use Oculus Quest movement, voice, weight, or camera data for advertising. But that raises a big question—what if Facebook changes its mind? Could Facebook use your movement data to detect when you’re hungry or thirsty, pinpointing the perfect opportunity to serve a fast food ad in-game? Advertising is a slippery slope, and the treasure trove of personal information collected by VR hardware may be too attractive to ignore.
According to Facebook’s announcement, Quest VR ads are supposed to help developers generate more money. A more realistic perspective is that Faceboook wants to skirt around the growing list of privacy controls on iOS and Android. Facebook doesn’t have to worry about privacy controls on its own hardware, after all.
Want to give Facebook some feedback on the new Oculus Quest ads? Go take a trip to the Oculus Support page.