Quest users searching the Store will now be able to more easily find games published through its early access distribution channel, App Lab, which previously weren’t visible, effectively giving smaller studios a more level playing field.

Meta is making its operating system and app store available on third-party VR headsets sometime soon, and one of the bigger changes coming to the platform is the blurring of the barrier between the Main Store and App Lab.

Besides offering a way for studios to publish their titles in early access, App Lab also lets any developer who meets basic technical and content requirements ship software on the platform, effectively making it open to studios of any size.

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Now App Lab has its own section of the store, making those indie titles and early access games a lot more visible. To boot, App Lab games were previously hidden in the Main Store, but are now showing up in search results, appended with the new ‘App Lab’ section title.

Meta has also removed the previous pop-up warning as well when viewing an App Lab game, replacing it with a smaller note next to the game’s user rating, stating “This app may be experimental or still in development.”

Elevating App Lab games makes a good deal of sense considering how well indie titles like Gorilla Tag have fared through the parallel distribution in the past, which to date is not only the platform’s most reviewed game, but has also generated the most revenue on Quest. It’s likely the company will look to further dissolve the boundaries between Main Store and App Lab as it begins licensing Horizon OS (ex-Quest OS).

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • guest

    Hope that an exact name search doesn’t bring up copycat apps and similar sounding apps that paid to come out on top. Even if its not intentional, their AI search can get gamed and then its impossible to remove the bad weighting corrupting it!

  • Christian Schildwaechter

    Quest users searching the Store will now be able to more easily find games published through its early access distribution channel, App

    App Lab was never officially an early access distribution channel, instead Meta designated it to experimental stuff and as a distribution channel for non-mainstream apps like VR training apps that studios would create for companies, requiring special keys to run, using App Lab only as a more convenient way to distribute and update apps compared to sideloading.

    Meta effectively used App Lab as an early access “trial by fire” ground with reversed conditions. While other early access platforms allow developers to get user feedback before publishing the final version (themselves) on the same platform, Meta expected developers to make their apps available on App Lab, with no guarantee they’d ever make it to the main store, no matter how good the user response was. It just increased the chances.

    Making App Lab a part of the regular store, defusing the pop-up warning and including apps in search results is a big step forward. It would be interesting to know if Meta has now also officially designated App Lab as their “early access” channel (with know rules/path to the Quest store), or if this was just implied by the article.

  • Stephen Bard

    Finally the Quest Store has a direct tab link to the App Lab, where previously you had to visit the Sidequest site to access the App Lab thru a sort of Quest Store “back door” to see actual lists of App Lab apps. Unfortunately this initial Quest Store selection of App Lab apps is only 374 apps, many of which are Gorilla Tag clones. The App Lab section of the Sidequest site currently shows 3000+ App Lab apps, so initially you will still need to go there to see more of the App Lab in list format. Hopefully the Quest Store App Lab tab will eventually have the ability to index “All” App Lab apps, preferably allowing you to sort alphabetically and by Release Date, so you can continually check to see what is New.

    • ViRGiN

      The so called “open” sidequest which previously added mechanism to disallow sideloading content deemed “bad” by the devs, themselves forbid uploading games like gorilla tag to their obsolete store.

  • So – several days late with the news and with a very shallow and uncritical analysis?

    • ViRGiN

      did steamvr became open source or something, or what is your actual beef?

  • eadVrim

    This reminds me of the early days of the Android Store, where everyone could publish their apps regardless of their quality, this thing makes more and more apps for free and was one of the main reasons for Android’s popularity.
    Otherwise, Meta should stop the Quest demanding to set that fck** boundary in Mixed Reality mode, or let users to disable completely that shi* boudary.

  • But they still haven’t fixed the Scoped Storage issue.

  • This is good. I also add that titles on App Lab are also searcheable now, so we are not like unlisted Youtube links anymore!

  • Best change we’ve seen in the industry for years.