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Meta now owns VR fitness company Within

The tug of war over Meta’s acquisition of Within is over. Meta has completed its purchase of the virtual reality workout app maker, bringing Supernatural and other projects into the metaverse giant’s fold. The two didn’t elaborate further on their plans, but Within said in October 2021 that it would continue to develop Supernatural exercise content under Meta’s Reality Labs wing.

The deal was in doubt for a while. The Federal Trade Commission filed an antitrust suit to block the deal in July 2022, contending that Meta was trying to buy its way into VR dominance by acquiring key developers like Within and Beat Saber creator Beat Games. Meta agreed to delay the acquisition to provide more time. Last week, however, a federal court denied a preliminary injunction to block the merger while the FTC investigated. The commission decided against appealing the loss, but was yet to decide whether or not it would rely on an administrative law judge to stop the union.

The move gives Meta control over one of the most popular VR fitness apps at a crucial moment. Meta is struggling to pivot to the metaverse between steep losses and a lack of clear incentives to spend extensive time in VR. Within gives Meta both a fitness system and a subscription service, albeit one aimed at a relatively niche audience. It also helps Meta compete against a growing wave of headsets that includes PlayStation VR2.

The completion isn’t good news for the FTC, however. The Within buyout was an early test of commission chair Lina Khan’s crackdown on Big Tech. While there are still other battles to fight, such as the antitrust suit over Microsoft’s Activision Blizzard takeover, this suggests the regulator won’t have an easy time keeping major companies in check.

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