Passing Meta’s content review process for Quest games is an essential step to being listed on the Quest Store, although some studios choose to offer their games in beta via App Lab first, meaning they can take time to get things right before listing on the store proper. That’s what developer Combat Waffle Studios and publisher Beyond Frames Entertainment did with their hit multiplayer shooter Ghosts of Tabor, and it’s seemed to have paid off.
Released on App Lab back in March, Ghosts of Tabor is an extraction-based survival game that tosses in player-versus-environment (PVE) and player-versus-player (PVP) combat, all of which is set in the suitably bombed-out near future. Inspired by games likes Escape from Tarkov and DayZ, there are plenty of guns, customization options, and opportunities for crafting and looting along the way to extraction.
It’s been such a winning mix of familiar gameplay, no doubt fueled by sheer developer grit, that it’s already surpassed $3 million in revenue. And that’s without being searchable on the Quest Store, a main feature of games sold via App Lab.
In a Meta developer blogpost, the team describes how listing through App Lab has forced them to focus on direct marketing and generating a community first—arguably the most important things for online multiplayer games in VR. Here’s how Combat Waffle CEO Scott Albright describes the game’s journey:
Getting the game into the hands of players early in closed tests has been the very foundation of our efforts to gain traction. Even initially, we noticed that there is a stickiness to the game and people were enjoying themselves, and from there we made sure to connect with influencers to get their perspective and spread awareness.
By giving people an early hands-on experience, we hoped that they would see the game for what it was and enjoy it as much as we do, despite it not being completely polished or finished.
Thankfully, most people trying the game in those early days really got into it and started posting videos on social media. It didn’t take long to find out that people have a lot of fun watching game clips, and it’s been super exciting to see people’s reactions in the comments. With attention increasing on social media, peoples’ expectations for the title are also starting to build, even before the launch.
While App Lab has stolen the thunder somewhat from SideQuest, the original unofficial content distribution outlet for Quest content, it’s been an increasingly important outlet for developers looking to generate loyal fanbases. The most successful to date is undoubtedly the free-to-play phenomenon Gorilla Tag, which managed to create so much hype in its time on App Lab that it reported a lifetime revenue of $26 million less than a month after moving to the main store.
In addition to being on App Lab, Ghosts of Tabor is also available on Steam Early Access. It’s also said to launch on the Quest Store sometime next year, where it is planned to include “many more maps, gameplay features, and improvements that are currently not present in the Early Access version,” the team says.