Meta has begun the process of merging ‘unlisted’ App Lab apps into the main Quest store, more than tripling the number of discoverable apps.

App Lab, as many of you know, is the holding zone for apps that didn’t get hand-picked by Meta for inclusion in the main Quest store. Up until now, App Lab apps have been effectively ‘unlisted’, meaning they can’t be discovered in the Quest store unless you have a direct URL or search for the exact name of the app.

After years of this division as the status quo, Meta has recently begun merging App Lab with the main Quest store, making App Lab apps discoverable through browsing and broader search terms.

Prior to this merging, there were some 660 apps on the main Quest store. While this is far and away the largest library of VR apps on a standalone headset, it pales in comparison to the 2,200 additional apps that have been hidden in App Lab (data courtesy VRDB).

With App Lab apps now included in the main Quest store, users can now find more than 2,860 Quest apps. That more than triples the original count.

Why Meta Made App Lab

Meta’s original decision to sequester App Lab apps was to make sure only high quality and original VR experiences (according to its own discretion) would appear before users. Apps that were smaller, less polished, or experimental would stay hidden in App Lab. That left the developers to figure out how to drive an audience to their app with no help from browsing or recommendation features (even though Meta continued to take the same revenue cut).

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And while it’s true that plenty of apps you’ll find on App Lab are low effort, there’s also plenty of gems—many of which garnered enough attention to be promoted to the main Quest store. In fact, one of Quest’s most popular games to date, Gorilla Tag, became a viral success well before making the jump from App Lab to the main Quest store.

But, developers have argued, perhaps such apps would have found success sooner if they weren’t hidden in the first place.

A Watershed Moment?

Despite the inclusion of 2,200 new apps in the the main Quest store, developers are unlikely to see a new surge of traffic. Meta is still maintaining some division between the two groups of apps; users browsing the store will need to purposefully browse into the App Lab section to find that group of apps. But therein, at least, Meta is making an effort to curate this large group of apps into browsable categories, similar to the way it does on the main store.

In the future Meta says it plans to dissolve the App Lab section entirely, fully absorbing App Lab games into the main Quest store. At this point the company is likely to continue to mark some apps as ‘experimental’, and rely entirely on curation to make top content the most visible. With the walls dissolved, however, hopefully there will be a more direct avenue for unexpected hits like Gorilla Tag to bubble to the top.

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Ben is the world's most senior professional analyst solely dedicated to the XR industry, having founded Road to VR in 2011—a year before the Oculus Kickstarter sparked a resurgence that led to the modern XR landscape. He has authored more than 3,000 articles chronicling the evolution of the XR industry over more than a decade. With that unique perspective, Ben has been consistently recognized as one of the most influential voices in XR, giving keynotes and joining panel and podcast discussions at key industry events. He is a self-described "journalist and analyst, not evangelist."
  • ViRGiN

    And sidequest had their spotlight show, which wasn’t really covered here i guess? Must have been sidequest side not paying for advertisment here, but doing for uvr. Regardless, it was complete shit and back patting all the time. Sidequest think they are onto something.

  • Stephen Bard

    A couple of days ago there were less than 100 App Lab apps under the new App Lab tab in the Quest Store. Today there are 368 apps in the App Lab tab, so this is definite progress. When you count the total number of App Lab apps in the Sidequest App Lab section, you get 2544, which compares fairly well with the VRDB tabulation of 2255. Hopefully the App Lab Tab will eventually include a master list of All of the approx 2500 apps in chronological order by Release date, so you can see what is New.

    • ViRGiN

      Strange that SQ could pull some titles, but not all, and that nobody has ever informed them about this before. What apps are missing? Sidequest is business first, and they actively blocked quite a few things, it’s not as “open” as they cosplay to be.

      • Stephen Bard

        If you go to the Support tab on Sidequest and scroll down about 50 entries, you will get to my inquiry exchange “Not All App Lab . . .”, where they say “Hi, not everything gets grabbed instantly – all the time – for various reasons from AppLab.” Later, Shane says: “Thanks for this, I agree this is a problem. We are working to resolve this asap.”

  • As an indie developer I am very happy that the store opened up a bit. Until now I have not seen any increase in the download number, but the situation is evolving, so let’s see.
    Btw I agree with my friend Julien Dorra that Meta may have sped up in opening up App Lab to better compete with the Apple Vision Pro. Meta has to retain its developers and not make them go away to Google or Apple, plus has to show bigger app counts than the competition…

    • ViRGiN

      Hard to beat Apple, when they market it as something with 2 million apps.

      Meta always have the advantage of everything being immersive first, something Apple doesn’t even embrace.

    • Stephen Bard

      Unless your app is among the 368 revealed thus far under the new App Lab tab, it hasn’t yet been seen by that potential new audience.

    • Stephen Bard

      I don’t see Vision Pro as much competition for developers. For developers interested in actually fun immersive VR games, the Vision Pro “pinch” interface so severely limits the movement in games that they wouldn’t be much fun to make. The AVP has only a couple hundred thousand users, who are primarily interested in flat floating productivity apps and not games, whereas there are over 20 million Quest headset users (primarily interested in games) to sell to. Currently there are only a handful of simple, non-movement “games on the AVP, the only well-known of which is Demeo. Comparisons between Quest 3 and AVP continue to be non-sequiter “Apples” and oranges . . .

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        AVP user numbers are a limiting factors, though many devs will expect these to significantly grow with cheaper consumer oriented versions. Quest will stay ahead for a long time, but only ~7mn active users despite 20mn+ Quest sold may actually speak against it.

        And AVP games are in no way limited to pinch. Blackbox by Shapes & Stories was/is an award winning iOS puzzle game requiring to think “out of the box”. To solve puzzles you don’t just push things around, but rotate your phone in 3DoF, speak/don’t speak, send yourself QR codes, hold it against you head, adjust brightness and more. It uses all the different sensors for puzzle design, has excellent ratings and now also supports Vision Pro.

        On AVP you interact with bubbles floating in your room. You can pinch them, but also burst them by poking, absorb them with your palms, cup or splash them with two hands etc. It asks to “use all your senses”, so there’ll will be more rich interactions using audio and eye tracking. The AVP version is highly praised, with at least one reviewer stating that Blackbox finally made him realize that mixed reality in games can be much more than a gimmick.

        • Stephen Bard

          Anecdotally, the novelty of the AVP drops far more rapidly than a Quest 3 once you realize that the flat productivity apps you do in floating windows can be accomplished more efficiently/comfortably on your desktop, and you don’t have that brick-on-a-cable dangling around. I spent years incrementally climbing out of the narrow-FOVs hole with various headsets, and this ridiculously overpriced AVP throws you back down the rabbithole, peering out from the claustrophobic (((swim-mask tunnel))).

          • Christian Schildwaechter

            Anecdotally tons of AVP users have returned the HMD after a short while, or at least that is what a lot of people have claimed, usually those that considered AVP a stupid concept anyway, often without trying it themselves. Statistically the AVP return rate is similar to that of other Apple products at about 1%, according to Apple retail sources.

            So deriving acceptance rates from what those that expected/wanted AVP to fail now believe/consider obvious even without having actual sources, isn’t a particularly reliable approach.

  • Arno van Wingerde

    Well Ben, I am happy that you are happy… voor the designers!
    For users though, it might mean that I have to wade through tons of “hello world” “apps” before finding something halfway interesting. I feel the users may be the loser of this move, unless it can be filtered such that most garbage is not visible – but I am not optimistic on that one, given the so-so UI that Meta has.

    • Stephen Bard

      You definitely need some hip-waders to slog thru the unbelievable quantity of bad Gorilla-Tag clones, and most of the rest of App Lab apps are pretty lame, but you occasionslly find some clever or weird gems that make the looking worthwhile. Since most users previously only had only a vague notion about the existence of App Lab, much less how to access it via Sidequest, this increased visibility can only be a good thing for developers and users alike. For those like you who can’t justify the time spent slogging thru all the trash to find the gem, the good news is that no one will force you to “explore”. The arbitrary curation of the official Quest Store has included very little experimental or special niche apps, so Long Live the App Lab functionality in some publicly accessible form!

  • dave_the_dev

    Unfortunately developers still can’t add keywords to make their apps more searchable. So potential customers still have to search something very close to the exact name to find you app. Add to this that meta want to list apps chronologically which will punish older apps regardless of how much and how often they are updated. And finally take into account the absolute sea of shovelware Gorrilla Tag clones and devs really are no better off at all.

  • Andrew Jakobs

    App lab should have been a separate section you could just browse through or even be a separate app being just like the regular store.