Facebook recently updated its Content Guidelines for Oculus Quest to include a new section titled “Oculus Platform Abuse Policy” that could affect certain types of sideloaded Quest content.
For those unfamiliar, “sideloading” is the term generally applied to content loaded onto some types of modern computers from sources not explicitly approved by content reviewers.
Facebook’s $400 standalone VR headset, Oculus Quest, debuted in May with a console-like curation policy that ensures buyers find quality content available for purchase from the Oculus Store. That policy seems to be working for some developers while others are finding it difficult to win the ability to sell content from Facebook’s storefront. Despite the policy, any Quest owner can call themselves a developer to sideload content Facebook hasn’t directly approved for the Oculus Store. The developer of Virtual Desktop uses this route to support buyers of his app who want to wirelessly stream PC-based SteamVR content.
Most notably, the new guidelines seem to affect the BeatOn software that can be sideloaded onto the Quest through SideQuest. The software allowed users to sync custom songs to a modified version of Beat Saber. The songs would sync according to the user’s bookmarks of an online song directory. This essentially automated the process of downloading pirated music and custom beat maps to the headset. A post to Reddit suggests the creators of BeatOn are withdrawing support after the new Content Guidelines update.
The developers of Beat Saber themselves promised some kind of custom level support in the future and, next month, Facebook is planning to release the Oculus Link wired connection that’s said to make a VR Ready PC treat Quest like an Oculus Rift.
New Warning In VR
The new section of the Oculus Content Guidelines referring to violations associated with sideloaded content reads as follows:
Uploaded, distributed, or sideloaded any of the following:
- Content that appears to be infringing, copied, or pirated; or
- Content that contains malicious code; or
- Mods of applications available on or through our platform that appear to infringe on third party’s intellectual property rights, introduce malicious code, give players an unfair advantage, or are otherwise not approved;
This is only a small excerpt of the section which details that Oculus may – among many other actions – suspend, ban or terminate an Oculus account for violations. We recommend reading the full guidelines to get a complete understanding.
We contacted Facebook for clarity and received the following statement from a spokesperson: “Our most recent policy updates give more clarity around how developer mode is intended to be used, such as helping developers build their apps or for enthusiasts to explore new concepts. It is not intended for engaging in piracy or illicit modding, including mods that infringe on third party IP rights or contain malicious code.”
Back in February, Facebook’s Chris Pruett told us that Facebook doesn’t “intend to shut down sharing of builds amongst friends” on the Quest system, in response to questions of the Quest’s curation policy.
Quest owners who install content from “unknown sources” also now see a warning about the change to the guidelines when looking at that section of their library in VR.
“Running apps from unknown sources may put your account and device at risk,” the warning reads. “Our Platform Abuse Policy also prohibits piracy, illicit modding, cheating, and other unauthorized usage.”
We also reached out to Shane Harris, the developer behind SideQuest, for comment. He said BeatOn was the only software available via SideQuest affected by the guidelines. He also provided the following statement (emphasis is ours):
“I think the policy is an important document that highlights the consequences of piracy or other malicious behaviour. BeatOn has been an amazing tool that has provided a lot of customisation to the BeatSaber community but it has also had to go to some lengths to be able to achieve that. It uses techniques that Oculus could never be OK with and the BeatOn devs know this and have decided to do the right thing.
The important thing to remember is that this decision was not prompted directly by Oculus or by Beat Games, but by the desire to be above board and do the right thing by everyone. We continue to urge people not to inundate Oculus and Beat Games with bad reviews or refund requests. This is obviously viewed as a huge loss by many users but we are excited to see what official features might be in the works to replace it.”
Managing Editor Ian Hamilton contributed to this report.