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Regulator Moves To Block Meta From Acquiring VR Competitor

The Federal Trade Commission has filed a motion to block Meta from acquiring the company behind popular virtual reality fitness app Supernatural.

Meta announced last October the acquisition of Within, whose Supernatural is strikingly similar to Meta’s own Beat Saber app. Meta acquired Beat Saber’s parent company Beat Games in 2019, and the FTC claims it is systematically attempting to kill off competitors in the growing fitness market.

“Meta in recent years has set its sights on building, and ultimately controlling, a VR ‘metaverse,’” the FTC’s complaint says.

“Letting Meta acquire Supernatural would combine the makers of two of the most significant VR fitness apps, thereby eliminating beneficial rivalry between Meta’s Beat Saber app and Within’s Supernatural app.”

The FTC claims Meta has “become a key player at each level of the VR ecosystem: in hardware with its Meta Quest 2 headset, in app distribution with the Quest Store, and in apps with Beat Saber and several other popular titles.

“Mr. Zuckerberg has made clear that his aspiration for the VR space is control of the entire ecosystem,” the complaint reads.

“As early as 2015, Mr. Zuckerberg instructed key Facebook executives that his vision for ‘the next wave of computing’ was control of apps and the platform on which those apps were distributed, making clear in an internal email to key Facebook executives that a key part of this strategy was for his company to be ‘completely ubiquitous in killer apps.’”

Meta has denied these tactics.

“The FTC’s case is based on ideology and speculation, not evidence,” said Meta spokesperson Stephen Peters.

“The idea that this acquisition would lead to anticompetitive outcomes in a dynamic space with as much entry and growth as online and connected fitness is simply not credible.

“By attacking this deal in a 3-2 vote, the FTC is sending a chilling message to anyone who wishes to innovate in VR. We are confident that our acquisition of Within will be good for people, developers, and the VR space.”

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