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The dangers of clickbait articles that explore VR

Oculus Quest 2

Let’s talk about the misleading PC Gamer article. Recently the publication released a piece titled ‘Oculus will sell you a Quest 2 headset that doesn’t need Facebook for an extra $500.’ According to the piece, the more expensive headset – referring to the business edition – costs more because it’s ‘essentially the value the social media giant attributes to your data.’ The article doesn’t expand much further on this, as it then touches on how competitors can’t match the price of the Quest 2’s consumer version because Facebook’s backing is so large. 

The article misled a lot of people, for a couple of reasons: 

  • Generalised headline. It’s the type that asserts a statement that can be shared virally, without users clicking through and reading it properly, but doesn’t convey the nuances of the discussion. No, Facebook doesn’t value your personal data at $500.
  • Inadequate argument. The article barely explores why else the business version is more expensive, doubling down on the data angle. It does not explore why the business edition’s additional services contribute to the price. The argument is too reductionist to be true.

But ultimately, I am targeting this article because it tells us a lot about the media landscape with VR headsets. A lot of people really care about the use of their data, and Facebook’s mandatory log-in is a sticking point for some vocal people. In response, publications are crafting headlines that validate their views, causing the article to spread. And the number of times I have seen people share it without reading the headline is, well, disappointing. 

I welcome discussions on the role of date and VR, so long as they are nuanced and well-balanced. But I am wary of articles that appeal to the lowest common denominator and barely contribute to the important discussions in our industry – and so should you. Check your diet of articles each day, and keep an eye out for clickbait.