The Unity Cube is an experiment from developer Tony “SkarredGhost” Vitillo to test the limits of what Oculus will allow into the App Lab program. Vitillo submitted a fully functional application which simply presents the user with a cube in a blank environment—and Oculus accepted it.

Oculus App Lab is an alternative path for developers to publish applications on Quest. For a long time the only official way to distribute an app on the headset was to submit it to the main Quest store, but Oculus would only accept applications which meet certain quality criteria, like how much content the app offered to users and whether it was appropriately polished. This made it difficult for experimental and smaller projects to get their app in front of the Quest audience.

Earlier this year, Oculus finally began offering an alternative distribution approach for Quest, called App Lab, which allows developers to submit applications for distribution—without any judgement on quality or scope—with the caveat that App Lab apps aren’t shown in the main Quest store, leaving it up to developers to point their audience to the app’s page.

To test whether Oculus is truly taking a hands-off approach to the content of App Lab apps, developer Tony “SkarredGhost” Vitillo created The Unity Cube. As the name implies, the app is simply a blank Unity environment with a grey cube—that you can’t even interact with. Even at the great price of free, this app would never stand a chance of making it onto the main Quest store. But could it make it onto App Lab?

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To Vitillo’s surprise, the answer was yes. In fact, you can download The Unity Cube it right here.

Behold, The Unity Cube! | Image courtesy Tony Vitillo

Indeed, it turns out that Oculus won’t judge the scope of App Lab apps, as long as they meet technical requirements and content guidelines (ie: limitations on adult or illegal content, and certain app categories).

Thanks to the experiment, Vitillo also learned some things about the App Lab submission process which he shared in his breakdown of the project. We boiled down his lessons below:

  • The App Lab submission process is fairly easy and shouldn’t take more than an hour
  • App Lab store page requirement must be met before an app is accepted, including at least five screenshots that all look different
  • Apps which request permissions which are not actually utilized (ie: use of microphone) will be rejected from App Lab until the permissions are removed
  • Rejection notices are reasonably specific (based on the VRC list detailed here)
  • The submission took 5–6 weeks to be reviewed. It was initially rejected for not meeting some technical requirements. After resubmission it took 4–5 days to be approved.

From Vitillo’s perspective, this experiment shows that Oculus is as hands-off as they promised to be regarding the content of App Lab apps.

“Most importantly, Facebook lets you publish whatever you want. I mean, they have published an app with just a cube… this means there is absolutely no content curation. And I’m very happy about it, it means that on App Lab there is a lot of space for freedom and creativity,” he wrote. “I would still like it to be a bit more open, allowing cloud streaming applications and [adult] experiences (both are forbidden at the moment), and I would like App Lab applications to be more visible… but as a first step, I think it’s good. You can publish on App Lab whatever you want. Be brave, I even submitted a cube and I’ve been approved!”

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  • kontis

    A unity cube is okay, but Fortnite and ShadowPC (that many people already were testing on Quest and loved it…) would be banned for the same reason Apple banned them.

    Apparently they are porn or illegal content. Right, guys?

    The lack of quality check is not even half of the problem of the danger of these platforms for future of civilization.

    Anything that can threaten Facebook’s/Apple’s monopolistic business on their platforms is not allowed. That’s okay as long as there are many platforms. But if VR/AR goes the mobile route (duopoly) we will be living in a dystopia as XR may be much bigger than smartphones.

    Meanwhile Microsoft Windows doesn’t care what business you do and how you do it on their platform, which lead to creation of various innovations that changed the world of entertainment like Steam (another “illegal” example on AppLab).

    Notice how platforms from the 90s – windows and WWW are the oases of free market with freedom and independence for consumers and businesses but all the modern ones are designed from the ground-up to make the walled garden owner the one and only Don Corleone. And yes, I realize the irony that this was first proven by Steam.

    Can’t believe that Microsoft is now our only hope for non-walled mass consumer computing platform supporting free market… boggles my mind.

    • Lulu Vi Britannia

      Smartphones were the biggest innovation of the last decades aside from VR. It wasn’t made in Windows.

      A “walled garden” isn’t necessarily a brake for innovation, and isn’t an opposition to “free market”. As long as there’s competition, the market is free. In fact, I dare argue that computers were a lesser free market than current VR.

      I still don’t want Facebook and Apple to be the VR leaders though…

  • iVRy

    My app was rejected from AppLab for allowing users to purchase DLC on Steam. Specifically, they said that the user of the app is not allowed to make content purchases on any other store. This is in stark contrast with Google, Apple and Valve stores (where I also sell this app), where the only restriction is that content must be sold at the same price on all stores so as not to give a competitor an advantage.

    • benz145

      So you’re saying if you have the same app on another platform and it offers DLC on that platform, they won’t allow the app on App Lab?

      • iVRy

        No, if you sell DLC for the Oculus version of the app on another store, they won’t allow it. For instance, I sell an app on Google and Apple stores, and the user can either purchase DLC on those stores or the Steam store. For the Oculus version of the app, it will only be allowed in App Lab if I block the user from being able to purchase DLC on the Steam store. This is very annoying as it’s not mentioned anywhere in their TOS, so one has to wait 6 weeks to discover this. This becomes very complicated, as the GearVR and Go versions can’t purchase DLC on the Oculus store, so must use Steam, but Quest can’t use Steam. They all use the same APK.

  • Well now the probably will curate more just because of this. :-o

  • alxslr

    Please make a full review

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  • The Unity Cube

    We really hope you loved it <3

  • The Unity Cube

    is the answer 42³?

  • RobKohr

    You have to be a real square not to like this cube.

  • jingles

    That doesn’t really seem that weird… E.g., for all they know, somebody is writing a tutorial on how to code in Unity and that is the demo for chapter 2 or whatever.

  • disqus_8fLBLT7n3c

    you literally have to click a button to see it. there is no downside for the end user lmao