FTC moves to block Meta’s purchase of ‘Supernatural’ VR workout app maker Within

The Federal Trade Commission has filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company to prevent its purchase of Within Unlimited, maker of the virtual reality workout app . The agency and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, “plan to expand Meta’s virtual reality empire with this attempt to illegally acquire a dedicated fitness app that will prove the value of virtual reality to users.”

The FTC claimed Meta is “already a major player” at all levels of the VR ecosystem. It said the company has the best-selling VR device (), a leading VR app store, “seven of the most successful developers and one of the best-selling apps of all time”. The latter probably refers to . Meta, the creator of this rhythm game, Beat Games, in 2019.

“Rather than competing on merit, Meta is trying to buy its way to the top,” John Newman, deputy director of the FTC’s competition bureau, said in a statement. “Meta already owns a best-selling virtual reality fitness app, and it had the ability to compete even more closely with the popular Within supernatural apartment But Meta chose to buy the market position instead of earning it based on merit. This is an illegal acquisition and we will take all reasonable remedial action.”

Meta announced its plan to buy Within last October. In December it was reported that the FTC . Of course, Meta only entered the VR market in 2014.

The FTC argues in the complaint that Meta has the resources and “reasonable likelihood” to enter the VR fitness market by building its own app. This approach, the agency said, would “increase consumer choice, encourage innovation, encourage additional competition to attract the best employees, and provide other competitive advantages.” Instead, the FTC claims that Meta would “limit future innovation and competitive rivalry” if it bought Within, saying “that reducing competition violates antitrust laws.”

“The FTC’s case is based on ideology and speculation, not evidence. The idea that this acquisition would lead to anti-competitive outcomes in a dynamic space with as much market entry and growth as online and connected fitness is just not credible,” a Meta spokesperson told Engadget in a statement. “By attacking this deal with a 3-2 vote, the FTC is sending a chilling message to anyone looking to innovate in VR. We are confident that our acquisition of Within will be good for people, developers and the VR space.”

The move will be another blow to Meta’s goal of becoming the leading player. The company has poured billions into the effort, though in recent months it has scaled back some of its ambitions that were reportedly meant to encroach on its Metaverse. This week, the company announced that it would be offering a $100 Meta Quest 2 headset starting August 1st. News of the FTC’s move to block the Within acquisition comes on the same day that Meta will report its second quarter 2022 earnings.

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https://www.engadget.com/ftc-meta-supernatural-within-vr-metaverse-antitrust-193448429.html?src=rss FTC moves to block Meta’s purchase of ‘Supernatural’ VR workout app maker Within

Russell Falcon

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