The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has filed a lawsuit against Meta to prevent the acquisition of VR software creator Within.
The parent firm of Facebook and Instagram is also the most powerful player in the virtual reality (VR) space—and Meta, as the name suggests, is working hard to create a future metaverse. Indeed, the FTC believes that Meta’s planned acquisition of Within would be another step toward total control. The complaint claims that “Meta would be one step closer to its ultimate goal of owning the entire ‘metaverse.'”
The FTC filed a complaint against Meta Platforms in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California to prevent the firm from completing its announced acquisition of Within, the VR game developer behind the popular fitness app Supernatural.
Meta, which develops the Quest 2 headgear (previously the Oculus Quest 2), announced the intended acquisition last October in a deal valued at more than $400 million, according to The Information. To appease the FTC, the business postponed the deal’s closing date to August 1.
In a statement issued today, the agency said that Meta is aiming to limit independent studios’ VR fitness competition by acquiring the studio behind the #1 app in the sector rather than launching its own competing programme. The commission decided 3-2 to file a lawsuit to stop the purchase.
The acquisition would dampen future innovation and competitive rivalry
The acquisition would “[dampen] future innovation and competitive competition,” according to the government, and hence violate antitrust regulations. The FTC also pointed out that Meta already owns Beat Games, the creators of the famous VR game Beat Saber, which some people use as a fitness tool. It further claimed that controlling both studios would have an influence on competitive innovation.
The FTC lawsuit goes beyond the VR emphasis and into the larger domain of the metaverse, which Meta is working toward—so much so that it changed its name from Facebook last autumn.
Some view the metaverse as a future progression of the internet in which users interact with avatars across overlapping 3D areas. Meta is aggressively pushing in the field, however it’s unclear whether the company would leverage Web3 technologies such as NFTs and cryptocurrencies, as builders in the blockchain space are.