The Quest Store has a very strict app selection process, a reality that makes it extremely difficult for developers to onboard their apps onto the platform. Many, instead, opt for sideloading via the SideQuest platform. Sideloading is not necessarily illegal. Facebook has a set of guidelines on how to go about it. However, the content is not approved and verified by Quest and does not appear in the Oculus Store.
Facebook now wants to create an ‘official’ SideQuest-style platform that developers can use to share experimental apps.
Oculus’ Director of Content Ecosystem Chris Pruett has provided the details of the Oculus Store’s content curation policy via a Twitter thread. He also teased a potential official way through which developers may be able to distribute Quest apps outside the Oculus Store.
You can read the entire thread below:-
The thread was posted in response to a reaction regarding Facebook’s recent second rejection of Chrisis VRigade which has more than 72,000 downloads from SideQuest to date. Pruett was defending Facebook’s selection process for Oculus Quest apps and wrote that the company’s focus on “polish and quality” has been the driving factor behind developer success on its platform.
He goes on to acknowledge that Oculus understands that many developers and Quest enthusiasts are currently looking for easier ways through which they can access and share content outside the official Oculus Store. He says that this is an area that his team is currently actively thinking about. Pruett finally promised that more information about this will be forthcoming soon.
The implication here is that Facebook is currently considering a non-store route through which it could distribute Oculus Quest apps. SideQuest currently offers developers and Quest fans the best alternative to sideload apps that have not been officially approved by Oculus onto their Quest.
The Pruett Twitter thread might be a teaser for some official SideQuest alternative that will enable developers and enthusiasts to sideload content into Quest that has not been approved via the Oculus curation policy and process.
SideQuest is proving popular with many developers with many going as far as releasing paid content into the SideQuest store. The best example is To the Top which was rejected by Quest and was later introduced as a paid app on SideQuest. It proved so popular that the developers went ahead and continued working on a sequel that would still reach users via an alternative route to the Oculus Store curation process.
A New Oculus Share?
Oculus has in the past run a dedicated platform for sharing experimental apps and early access content. The platform was known as Oculus Share and was operational between 2013 and 2016. The platform enabled developers to publish their open projects and receive feedback from end users while also giving end users the opportunity to try out new VR content for free.
Following the retirement of the platform, the sideloading app SideQuest had filled in this gap and soon became very popular with developers and fans.
However, Facebook has been mildly wary of the platform as sideloading bypasses Oculus’s own store and creates a direct competition on its own platform. Facebook went as far as warning that the illegal use of the SideQuest platform might result in a platform ban. Apps are now even being sold on the SideQuest platform so creating a dedicated separate sideloading platform would be win for Facebook, developers and end users.
With Facebook now teasing its own dedicated sideloading platform, SideQuest future now remains uncertain.