How Facebook’s Outage Affected Oculus And VR Developers

by David Heaney • March 14th, 2019

Facebook’s server infrastructure had the longest outage in its history this week. The social network, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp were all affected. Since the Oculus platform is hosted on Facebook’s servers, it was also affected.

Users

Users were unable to download or install Oculus Store apps. Multiplayer games using the free Oculus networking system like Dead and Buried and The Unspoken no longer functioned.

Some users reported software interpreting the connectivity issue as a setup issue. This left these users totally unable to use their Rift headset. It’s unclear how widespread this specific bug was, but it is concerning that it can happen at all. The Rift software does work offline, so it ideally should work even with partial connectivity.

Developers

Beyond users, even the Oculus developer backend was affected- leaving developers unable to upload builds or updates. Beat Saber released an update on Steam, but the Oculus Store update had to be delayed several hours. Beat Games had to make a statement on Twitter:

beat saber oculus outage

The app Virtual Desktop for Oculus Go allows users to virtually use their PC in their Oculus Go. It even works over the internet, so as long as your PC is on you can access it from anywhere. For security reasons, the app uses your Oculus profile to verify you’re really you. But since the Oculus servers weren’t working, Virtual Desktop no longer worked either.

Implications

The issues seem to be over now, with Facebook stating on Twitter “We’ve now resolved the issues and our systems are recovering.” Facebook has been operating for 15 years and has never had an outage of this length.

But as the company’s grip on the VR market continues to grow, developers will have concerns about the risks of relying on one platform. Facebook will need to rebuild trust in their servers, and that will take time.

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