Oculus App Lab is a way for developers to publish their apps on Quest without being subject to curation, but it comes with a few caveats like not being visible in the main Quest store. Since its launch, App Lab games also haven’t been able to offer DLC or in-app purchases, but the company says it’s working to add that capability later this year.
While App Lab games can be free or paid, they can’t currently offer ‘add-ons’ like downloadable content (DLC) or in-app purchases (IAP). That basically makes the free-to-play and live-service pricing models (where a game is offered for free up-front and supported by add-on purchases) invalid for App Lab developers.
Fortunately that should be changing later this year. Road to VR reached out to Oculus about the topic which said, “we’re currently working on adding support for in-app purchases on App Lab and are aiming for an update later this year.”
The addition of DLC and in-app purchase capabilities could have major implications for App Lab developers.
For instance, the unexpectedly popular early access game Gorilla Tag is free, but as a multiplayer title, the costs associated with running the game scale with the number of players. On Steam, the developer is able to offer a paid ‘Supporter Pack’ which gives players an optional way to support the game’s ongoing development in exchange for in-game cosmetics. But on Quest, where most of Gorilla Tag’s players play, this isn’t currently possible.
The same thing applies to games that would like to add additional content modules to their game over time. Beat Saber, for instance, sells new song packs on an ongoing basis to give players more to do in the game. If Beat Saber was on App Lab, this wouldn’t currently be possible because of the DLC and IAP limitation.
While Oculus recently introduced a subscription pricing model for Quest apps, this model is also not currently available to App Lab developers. We’ve reached out to Oculus to ask if subscription pricing will be enabled for App Lab apps in the future.