It was first discovered years ago that Meta has been testing cloud game streaming to bring PC VR games to Quest, but the feature has yet to see the light of day (or even an official announcement). New evidence suggests the feature, codenamed Avalanche, is still in active development and may support specific games from the Oculus Studios catalog, like Lone Echo (2017).

Standalone VR is no doubt the most convenient way to play VR, but running VR content on what amounts to a smartphone chip is no small task. Developers need to drastically cut back on graphics and sometimes features in order to maintain acceptable performance in VR games.

Meta fortunately offers the Quest Link feature to stream PC VR content from your own gaming PC to the headset. This makes it easy to enjoy the high-quality visuals of PC VR games with the convenience of a tetherless headset.

But what if you don’t already own a powerful gaming PC? Well, you might be in luck.

Meta has long been testing a cloud game streaming feature for Quest, codenamed Avalanche, which would allow users to play PC VR games by rendering the game in the cloud and streaming it to the headset. It’s very similar to Quest Link, except instead of streaming from your own gaming PC, it’s streaming from a gaming PC that’s somewhere in the cloud.

References to Avalanche cloud game streaming on Quest have been spotted at least as early as 2022, but two years later the feature still hasn’t been launched or even announced.

But hope may not be lost. A new reference to Avalanche has purportedly been spotted in the experimental settings of the forthcoming Quest v67 update. Clicking the option even asks the user which specific game they want to play—in this case the only option shown is Lone Echo (2017), a seminal title in the early days of VR, and still a graphical showcase by most PC VR standards.

Though the Avalanche session never connected to the game, the goal is clear. Meta could use the feature to bring its catalog of impressive PC VR exclusives to a much wider Quest audience. This would mean players would get to play these games at much greater graphical quality than Quest would be able to handle on its own, and without Meta needing to make any major modifications to the titles.

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Quest’s Avalanche feature would be far from the first PC VR cloud game streaming service out there. Similar offerings from third-parties like PlutoSphere and Shadow proved out the concept, but struggled to gain traction—in no small part because Meta doesn’t allow VR cloud game streaming services on the Quest store. This, unfortunately, wouldn’t be the first time the company actively disallowed certain services on its headset while building its own version.

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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."
  • Arno van Wingerde

    I have been hesitating to buy a heavy PC just for PCVR, so I can enjoy the superior graphics. But… €2000 plus all the hassle of setting it up "just right" for a dead – according to the gospel of ViRGiN – platform? Hm…
    Now, I have doubts about the latency issue: if turning your head does not result in the picture moving accordingly and immediately it might be hard to play it without a bucket. However, the developments round the Quest3 and the games has really impressed me from a feeling of "slightly better but hardly worth it" to "Yeah!". Some games really seem to approach PCVR quality, even if you can see shortcuts programmers had to take… but that is often "good enough" for me!

    • ViRGiN

      You could always ask friend with a gaming PC to allow you to connect to it, to see for yourself if there is any value.

      streaming isn't an issue, it's the pcvr quality itself.

      • Arno van Wingerde

        Yes, I am going to do just that, since the neighbour also has a Q3. He claims Half Life: Alyx is great, and I believe him, but beyond that?? But his PC is rather limited, I believe a 2060 video card or so…

        • ViRGiN

          2060 is enough to play through it. Just adjust in game and vd settings accordingly.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      With improved software and faster routers, the biggest factor for latency is usually no longer the network, but the time it takes to encode the image on the PC and then decode it again, esp. on Quest 2. Total latency when streaming from a local PC will depend on the GPU, router, type of network connection to the PC, the HMD and streaming app you use, and how congested the network is. 40ms-60ms seem to be typical.

      Cloud services are run from data centers with very fast connections to major internet exchange points, where the networks from different companies are actually "interconnected" via insanely fast data pipes. My Geforce Now data center is in Paris, about 1000km from where I live, and the distance itself adds about 4ms latency. Total latency from me pressing a button, the result being sent to Paris, the next frame rendered, compressed, sent back to Berlin, then through WiFi, decompressed, is around 30ms.

      • Arno van Wingerde

        But in contrast to 2D gaming: wouldn't quick head motions cause nausea when there is even a 40-60 ms delay?

        • Christian Schildwaechter

          40-60ms is what people get with VD streaming from a local PC via WiFi. Much more than the <20ms latency needed to avoid nausea, but compensated for by time warping with ASW/AirLink or SSW/VD, shifting/rotating the transferred image on Quest's GPU to match any head movement IMU and tracking detected during rendering/transfer.

          Carmack wrote a "Latency Mitigation Strategies" blog post describing time warp before he even joined Oculus, and implemented it for DK1 in 2014, reducing image latency to the time it takes the GPU to shift/rotate/display the rendered image. Which could still be significant. Regular Android added one frame/16ms@60Hz just for display on tiled GPUs, requiring OS/display driver changes for GearVR.

          With motion prediction time warp could allow for 0ms visual latency, but just like warping too many frames, this quickly leads to very unpleasant jumps. It should work for any XR streaming to a "smart" HMD like Quest with GPU and sensors, so you shouldn't see latency (besides artifacts from moving parts ASW/SSW didn't catch), but might still notice increased reaction time to e.g. button presses. Lower is better, but slightly increased (network) latency from XR cloud streaming shouldn't translate to motion sickness.

  • ViRGiN

    I hate PCVR, and I'm so up Meta's rear it's hard to see where Meta ends and I begin, but I still do not approve of this venture because it's Quest all the way, ever since my mom bought me Quest 2 from Good Will. I had to wash it first.

    • ViRGiN

      I upgraded from Varjo XR4 to valve index. Not only valve index is 10x better, it's also 10x cheaper, despite being 5x older. People working at valve are so forward thinking.

  • Cl

    Meh, just make more games first. Everyone who wants pcvr has it and the rest just use standalone

    • ViRGiN

      There are still elitists in denial thinking PC hardware is too expensive.
      What a convinent way to ignore hundreds of millions of existing PC gamers being 200-300 dollars away from getting a VR headset.

      • Arno van Wingerde

        I think PC hardware, particularly videocards are too expensive, just to play a few PCVR titles with my Quest3. But it does not stop there: endless fiddling with drivers and extensions getting games to run just so is also not my thing. I did not like the added hassle of PSVR2: switching console on, putting the headset just right to get a sharp picture, putting the earbuds in. A PC is even worse, which is another advantage of Stand-alone Quest3 use. But when there is a steaming service I have hassle-free games with higher graphical resolution – sign me up please!

        • ViRGiN

          Too expensive for who?
          Again, there are hundreds of millions of PC gamers already equipped with sufficient hardware.

          Stop acting like there is zero overlap with PC vs PCVR gaming. PC gamers arent going out to get a headset. It’s not about cost. It’s about how crappy and abandoned PCVR is.

    • Andrew Jakobs

      It's not really PCVR, it is LIKE using the Quest 3 for PCVR. It certainly could be a great option, games can be delivered as a webpage kind of streaming option.

      • Cl

        After some thought, if they did bring this then there would be more incentive to make pcvr games, so I'm for it.

    • philingreat

      But with cloud gaming everyone with standalone would get a ton of new games to play

      • Cl

        It's not something I'm against, it's just I'd rather more compelling games come out than try to get cloud vr streaming to work rn. Although if they did get it to work properly then it could bring more focus to pcvr games… ok I change my mind, bring on the cloud vr.

    • Christian Schildwaechter

      Software sales per Quest user are rather low, much lower than on consoles, even with prominent ports paid for by Meta like RE4. Those expensive projects also haven't brought in lots of new users or led to a faster Quest growth rate, making the development of new games not particularly attractive.

      Most of Meta's software revenue comes from Beat Saber DLC and Supernatural subscriptions. They have been trying to get to more sustained revenue per user with their (not particularly attractive) Quest+ subscription. A PCVR cloud streaming service with monthly fees would fit right into this and very likely generate more revenue per user than Quest games sales themselves, simply due to the repeating nature.

      So just from a business point of view, pushing XR cloud streaming instead of making games first makes more sense. It somewhat endangers the dominance of Quest in VR that Meta paid a lot to achieve, but their perceived main XR competition may have switched from Steam to Apple and future AndroidXR HMDs, and offering XR cloud streaming could give them an advantage there. How well this can work depends a lot on whether they allow playing games users bought on Steam etc. (like Nvidia's quickly growing Geforce Now) or force users to (re-)buy them to also get a part of the sale (like Google's short-lived Stadia).

  • Johna

    Great news. Despite having a high end rig, this could make VR much more attractive. After showing friends q3 standalone content at first, and giving them HL:A and AW1 as example for pcvr, i usually get the reaction that they would rather put 3-4k aside for a gaming pc and hmd to get the pcvr experience instead of starting with a q3 standalone. Avalanche could break down this barrier. This would be a massive step in the right direction.

    • ViRGiN

      get the pcvr experience instead

      Yeah, and they will quit PCVR completly within few months.

      I think you purposfully did not tell them about general lack of quality games, and chose outdated Half Life Alyx to showcase how superior PCVR is, when in reality it isn't.

      • kakek

        "outdated Half Life Alyx" stull makes anything on quest look like mobile game.
        Cause it is.

        • ViRGiN

          And so nobody wants to play it, cause it’s old and stupid

  • Christian Schildwaechter

    PlutoSphere and Varjo's Reality Cloud XR streaming services were indeed kneecapped by Meta's EULA not allowing XR cloud streaming clients on either Quest store or App Lab, forcing those services to first teach customers how to use sideloading, not a good start for something supposed to make VR easier to use.

    ShadowPC on the other hand isn't really limited, since they don't provide a streaming service, but instead let you rent a gaming capable PC sitting in one of their data centers (USD 30+/month). They don't care whether you use it for Excel or PCVR games. Shadow offers a Quest client (beta) on SideQuest, but many people instead use the regular VirtualDesktop app from the Quest Store that can connect not only to a PC on your local network, but any PC accessible via an IP address.

    So for those already using VirtualDesktop, setting up their own, personal XR cloud streaming service is rather easy, either by configuring their router to allow remote access to their own PC running the VirtualDesktop server software, or by installing it and Steam on a rented machine like a ShadowPC. Giving them PCVR on their Quest wherever they find a fast internet connection. And it's completely within what Meta allows, as only 3rd party XR streaming, a much easier to use solution that people could give money to instead of Meta's Avalanche, is forbidden.

    • Nevets

      I've been thinking of trying shadowpc. Do you know offhand what the minimum home bandwidth needs to be? And any other key minimum specs? Couldn't see it on their website as they don't explain the vr use case

      • Christian Schildwaechter

        I don't have specs, but the minimum required bandwidth is very low. Aside from higher frame rates, VR streaming is just video streaming, and e.g. Netflix needs 15Mbps for 4K and 5Mbps for 1080p. Faster Wifi is recommended for latency.

        Basically the PC renders a frame, converts it to h265/h264, sends it to the router and immediately starts again. With compressed video taking up very little data, sending the frame takes less time than creating it or decompressing it on Quest 2, so the network idles most of the times with short data bursts. Quest link works just fine over USB2, but faster transfer will shave a few milliseconds off the total latency. Returns from switching to faster Wifi are diminishing, as most latency now comes from video encoding/decoding.

        Technically 25Mbps DSL is sufficient for XR cloud streaming, 1/40th of Shadow's 1Gbps. In 2023 Alaska with the slowest US internet connections had median 35.5Mbps downloads, Connecticut as the fastest 194Mbps, with 171Mbps the national average. Going higher allows for lower latency, less artifacts from high compression rates and better stability, so the minimum somewhat boils down to preference. I don't notice latency from Geforce Now streaming 1080p to a 4K@60Hz display and would rather go 30Hz than lose details, while others see local 120Hz as barely playable and run high end PCs in potato mode for reduced reaction times.

  • ZarathustraDK

    Let's take this extremely latency-sensitive thing and add a bunch of latency, what could go wrong?

    It's so effin' dumb and they should have found out by now. At best they can create a pseudo-realtime feeling with spacewark/async reprojection/framegeneration/whatever, but any interaction with an on-server resource is going to feel like molasses uphill in the winter. Take a look at people "jumpscaring" each other in VRChat, we're talking Joe Biden reaction times here.

    • ViRGiN

      who tf looks at vrchat?

      streaming is a thing, and it works.
      if you had bad experience, then you have shitty internet, and even more likely, shitty wifi router tucked deep behind thick 80s wood furniture, enough to have internet working, and enough to get inconsistent connection.

  • patfish

    Unlike many VR users here, Meta has long known that VR cloud rendering is the key to bringing the masses to VR gaming. Without effective VR cloud rendering and AAA games, there will be no mass adoption of VR mobile gaming. It's as simple as that, but most VR gamers still don't get this. Fortunately, Meta doesn't care what its users think or want ;D

  • kool

    If they can get this to work and add a sub fee. This would push out a lot of the new cheaper headsets!