Meta announced plans to acquire music-driven VR fitness app Supernatural in October 2021, but the deal is running into some big problems in the US.
Regulator the Federal Trade Commission has announced its intention to block the acquisition on competition grounds. FTC exec John Newman didn’t mince his words when explaining why.
“Instead of competing on the merits, Meta is trying to buy its way to the top. “Meta already owns a best-selling virtual reality fitness app and it had the capabilities to compete even more closely with Within’s popular Supernatural app. But Meta chose to buy market position instead of earning it on the merits. This is an illegal acquisition, and we will pursue all appropriate relief.”
Meta hit back equally bluntly, claiming in a blog post that the FTC’s verdict is “wrong on the facts and the law… based on ideology and speculation, not evidence”.
Meta also criticised the FTC’s suggestion that Beat Saber is a VR fitness app competing with Supernatural: “fundamentally different products with different user bases, different use cases and different competitive dynamics”.
It’s true that Beat Saber is a music game with (at most) light fitness aspects while Supernatural is a full fitness-workouts app.
But given the tone of the FTC’s announcement, Meta has a fight on its hands to prove its case and complete the acquisition, which had already been delayed until August this year.