In 2021 Meta announced it was set to acquire Within, the studio behind popular VR fitness app Supernatural, however the reportedly $400 million deal became subject to investigations by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in respect to Meta’s supposed monopolization of the VR fitness space. After the lengthy court battle, now the FTC says it’s no longer pursuing the suit to block Meta’s acquisition of Within.

Update (February 27th, 2023): As previously reported by Bloomberg, the FTC lost an important final step to officially block Meta’s acquisition of Within. At the time though, the process was still pending a possible FTC appeal.

Now the FTC announced it is abandoning the suit and will not appeal, which will now allow Meta to officially ink the deal to acquire Within. The original report follows below:

Original Article (February 2nd, 2023): Unreleased documents from the closed court proceedings appear to vindicate Meta’s acquisition of Within, Bloomberg reports, citing people familiar with the ruling. The sealed decision was made Wednesday morning by US District Judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California, which effectively denies the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction to block the acquisition.

The final outcome of the trial isn’t entirely official just yet though. It’s said Judge Davila also issued a temporary restraining order with the aim of pausing Meta from closing the transaction for a further week, allowing time for the FTC to make an appeal. Provided the reports are accurate, the chances of the FTC potentially clawing back from the loss seem fairly slim at this point.

Last July, the FTC under sitting Chair Lina Khan revealed it had filed a motion aimed at blocking the deal with a federal court in a 3–2 decision, which aimed at reigning in Meta’s ability to “buy market position instead of earning it on the merits,” FTC Bureau of Competition Deputy Director John Newman said at the time.

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Neither Meta nor the FTC has commented on the report regarding Meta’s win. In a statement to the New York Times about the matter in July, Meta called the FTC’s position “based on ideology and speculation, not evidence. 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.” Adding that the lawsuit would send “a chilling message to anyone who wishes to innovate in VR.”

Over the past four years, Meta has gone unchallenged in several VR studio acquisitions, including Beat Games (Beat Saber), Sanzaru Games (Asgard’s Wrath), Ready at Dawn (Lone Echo & Echo Arena), Downpour Interactive (Onward), BigBox VR (Population: One), Camouflaj (Marvel’s Iron Man VR), Twisted Pixel (Wilson’s Heart, Path of the Warrior), and Armature Studio (Resident Evil 4 VR port for Quest 2).

In particular, the FTC used Meta’s acquisition of Beat Saber as evidence that the company already had engineers with the skill set to both expand Beat Saber into fitness and to build a VR dedicated fitness app from scratch, an FTC court filing stated, maintaining that buying Within “was not the only way Meta could have developed the production capabilities and expertise needed to create a premium VR fitness experience.”

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 4,000 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Let Echo VR die but buy supernatural. So dumb.

    • MeowMix

      Supernatural requires all users to pay a subscription fee. It’s not F2P.
      Plus, going back to Boz’ podcast with Mark Rabkin, the VR Fitness section is at the inflection point; it’s just now taking off.

      • Arena was free but combat wasn’t. I understand that money was the driving force for this decision but combat had so much potential. They had years to make something great and make money at the same time, like they were with the combat passes. I’m hoping they are secretly working on echo combat 2 or something very similar.

    • Tommy

      It sucks they are killing Echo VR but they did say they are working on something new that’s like it. Hopefully, better.

  • ViRGiN

    Meta deserves to fail with stupid deals like that.

    • another juan

      i’d guess it wasn’t so stupid, since they beat Apple at it.

    • ViRGiN

      little pee-man is back

  • penix

    FTC going against Activison Blizzard buyout from Microsoft but (probably) allows Meta to make itself an actual VR monopoly

  • NotMikeD

    Oh good, so Meta can inexplicably kill THIS product off a few months down the line too.

    • ViRGiN

      reminds me of valve killing macos support for steamvr

  • Mike

    Meta made a huge mistake not to support VRChat. I am not writing about buying VRChat. Oh no, Meta would quickly ruin it to Horizons level :)
    I am talking about sponsoring VRChat and creating a few Meta worlds in there. It would be the best business advice for them and I give it to them now.
    They lost tons of money on Horizons bs. Horizons show a total lack of understanding why people come to worlds like VRChat. They have stupid managers obviously OR Zuck is micromanaging everyting.

    • ViRGiN

      lmao, vrchat is irrelevant outside basement dwellers.
      i’ve seen other companies ‘worlds’ in vrchat, can’t remember exactly what it was – toyota or some other car maker, and a bunch of other rather popular brands – it was all weeby-smelling dogshit that no real human would get interested.

      vrchat is not for _normal_ people. no matter how awesome and positive your experience was, that does not change the fact that vrchat is the social center for anti social, weeby, furries, and all other cringelords of the internet that need a “safe space” and be surrounded with others likeminded creeps.

      just like gorilla tag may have reputation for being kindergarden – vrchat has earned it’s own and even if you teach neurosciene using vrchat – it’s not the right tool for the job.

      • Sibir Lupus

        Irrelevant? VRChat is just the beginning of what may very well be our online future for long distance social interactions and ecommerce. But I get it, you don’t understand the technology or benefits so you label everyone that does “basement dwellers” and “creeps”. Its okay, I see that all the time from people that are scared to learn, or possibly are unable to learn due to a multitude of factors.

  • Smokey_the_Bear

    Its a pretty good workout “game” but too much per month.

  • Ad

    Utterly pathetic. Anti trust either exists or it doesn’t. This should have been blocked and FRL should have been forced to spin off of facebook.

    • MeowMix

      ummm, read the original filing by the FTC, if they won, then it would have jeopardized all future VR games development, since the FTC was setting the bar for VR Fitness as anything that included – music, raising your heart rate, and actively moving. Hell, most VR games would fit this category.

      This was more about the FTC not understanding the VR market than it was about Meta owning the VR Fitness space.

      • Ad

        “setting the bar for VR Fitness”

        If Supernatural is not a fitness app to you then you’re quite literally hopeless.

        • MeowMix

          Supernatural is a Fitness App.
          But context is key.

          The original suit by the FTC was to block the acquisition because they already owned Beat Saber ! Thus, they already owned a ‘VR Fitness’ experience

          What does Beat Saber have to do with anything ? Oh, the FTC was trying to make the case – anything that played to music, raised your heart rate, and made you sweat was ‘VR Fitness’. But many ‘games’ can fall into this category.

          And if a company could only have 1 big VR game company since they’re all Fitness now, then that’s the end of acquiring any more VR studios.

          Hence, even the judge knew it was hogwash

  • lolmao500

    Meta has way too much power. I hope the FTC blocks it

    • ViRGiN

      I hope Mark Zuckerberg poops on your doormat.

      • MeowMix

        Lol

  • Ad

    Total impunity at this point. It’s absurd.

  • Tommy

    What the hell are all these aquired companies doing? These are not any good games coming out of these purchases.

    • Octogod

      This is about aiming for a market and placating external investment.

      Within had 20+ investors who put $40m. Fox, LiveNation, Andreessen Horowitz (funders of Facebook), and more, who if they lost their money would be less likely to invest in Meta’s hardware.

      Rumors say that in 2021 Meta had ambitions to make more fitness focused hardware, so this seemed like a great fit. Instead of a messy closure and bad PR (after years of touting Milk after a half dozen pivots) they bought the whole kit. Since then their stock has tumbled, these hardware plans are seemingly scrapped, and so this makes a bit less sense.

      But I agree, I have no idea who would pay $180/year for this app.

      • Tommy

        All I know is that Meta keeps buying game companies and then they produce nothing. I understand buying an existing IP like Supernatural or Beat Saber but I don’t see anything new coming from Meta gamewise, at least, nothing worth remembering.

    • ViRGiN

      They are doing the same thing as companies making games like Candy Crush – capturing millions of users by providing a fun product for them.

  • ArcaneKand

    Companies don’t buy companies for their current projects they buy them for their IP just look at altspace which Microsoft bought in 2017 they are closing altspace (today apparently) and rolling the tech into
    Microsoft Mesh which is aimed at corporate use.