The developer of Virtual Desktop, a Quest app which allows users to stream their PC desktop to the headset for use in VR, says that after the recent addition of a feature which allowed SteamVR games to be played on Quest, Oculus is forcing him to remove the feature.
Guy Godin is a longtime VR developer whose Virtual Desktop app lets users use their PC from within a wide range of VR headsets.
Oculus accepted the Virtual Desktop app onto Quest despite a more strict approach to curation than with its other headsets. However, this was before Godin quietly updated the app with a SteamVR streaming feature which allowed users to play SteamVR content wirelessly from their PC on the Quest headset. For the time being, the feature was an “experiment,” according to Godin, and wasn’t advertised as part of Virtual Desktop, though users discovered it in short order.
Now Godin says that once Oculus caught wind of the SteamVR streaming feature they’re forcing him to remove it:
Hi guys, I’m sorry to announce this but Oculus doesn’t want the SteamVR streaming feature in their store. I’ve been developing in VR for 5+ years and as some of you may know, I like to experiment and push the envelop with the tech. I saw the ability to stream VR content from your PC as a very cool idea. I thought it would be a perfect fit for my app since it already gives you access to your computer. Like a nice bonus feature. I worked on this for months and was eager to improve the functionality as I received your feedback over the last few days but according to Oculus, I am hurting Quest..
As an alternative, Godin says he’s investigating the potential to offer the SteamVR streaming functionality as a separate app that could be ‘sideloaded’ onto Quest, an unofficial means of bypassing the Oculus store to install unsanctioned software on Quest.
Of course this is just Godin’s perspective of what happened. We’ve reached out to Oculus for comment on the decision require the removal of the feature from Virtual Desktop.
Update (6/12/19): An Oculus spokesperson provided the following statement.
“While we don’t comment on the status of specific apps, our Oculus Store application submission system is designed to help ensure that our devices deliver a consistent, comfortable experience to customers. Apps are evaluated on a number of factors including performance, input, and safety with the goal of creating a quality, high-value experience for all VR consumers.”
The implication (seized upon by those supporting the feature) is that Oculus must have made the decision in order to prevent users from easily playing SteamVR content on Quest, thereby protecting the sanctity of Oculus’ closed content ecosystem. However, it’s possible that Godin had breached some development guidelines or rules in order to make the feature work—or that Oculus has some other justification for forcing the removal of the feature.
Because Oculus has been more selective and less transparent about the content they’ll allow on Quest compared to other headsets, there’s considerable wiggle-room for an explanation.
Regardless of the reason, this will surely remind the VR community of the Oculus / Revive debacle of 2016 wherein Oculus sought to block a third-party hack which allowed non-Oculus headsets like Vive to play VR content from the Oculus store. While Oculus argued that blocking the hack was important for the security of its platform and developer’s content therein, the VR community at large felt that Oculus was protecting its closed content ecosystem to the detriment of users. In the end, Oculus reversed their decision and has tolerated Revive ever since.
Responding to a tweet from Godin about the Virtual Desktop issue, former Valve and Oculus programmer Tom Forsythe has a respectably pragmatic outlook on the situation:
“Ideally everyone would work a bit harder to find a reasonable solution.”