Developers can now distribute their Quest apps and games to users without going through the approval process for the Oculus Store or requiring user to enable sideloading on their headsets.
The new Oculus App Lab has turned the complete closed platform of the Oculus Store into a semi-closed platform. Facebook and Oculus had previously operated their headset in a similar manner to game consoles, the only way to get an app was to go through the official Oculus store. Users could manufacture a work around by declaring themselves developers and activating side loading.
Now Oculus has released the App Lab. This allows developers the ability to upload their apps to the Oculus platform without making it publicly available on the Oculus store. They make the game available through web URLs or product keys. The apps can be paid or free.
These are some of the games available through the App Lab today:
- Ancient Dungeon Beta by ErThu
- Baby Hands by Chicken Waffle
- Crisis VRigade and Crisis VRigade 2 by Sumalab
- Deisim by Myron Software
- Descent Alps - Demo by Sutur
- Gym Class by IRL Studios Inc
- MarineVerse Cup by MarineVerse
- Puzzling Places - Beta by realities.io Inc
- Spark AR Player by Facebook
- Smash Drums Demo by PotamWorks
- Zoe by apelab
They will not show up on the store, but once redeemed they can be accessed through your VR library. They will also have all the other benefits that come from an Oculus Store game like leader boards, achievements, and automatic updates.
Despite this move towards openness for Oculus and Facebook, they still maintain a lot of control over the apps and games that can get uploaded. Approval for the Oculus Store is very difficult to acquire, you would think that unlisted app distribution would be a little easier. Apps uploaded to the unlisted distribution service still need to follow Oculus’ technical and content guidelines. This means no adult apps, or other content which is against the company’s policies. The only requirement that has been relaxed is their quality review.
This has effectively side-lined the SideQuest store. They are no longer the only game in town for non-Oculus Store apps. They have already opened up support for App Lab URLs in place of the current sideloadable APK file.