Sideloading platform SideQuest is taking $650K in early investment from BoostVC, Oculus Founder Palmer Luckey, and The Fund.
The relatively small “pre-seed” funding will help SideQuest’s Shane Harris and Orla Harris build a testing service and other tools for virtual reality developers.
“I am investing in SideQuest because I believe in their vision for VR development and distribution,” Luckey said in a prepared statement. “No HMD manufacturer should have a stranglehold on the VR ecosystem or unilateral control over what people run on their VR headsets, and when I look at Sidequest, I see the spirit of Oculus Share.”
A startup called Fishbowl VR was used by some developers as a testing service during the 2016 wave of interest in consumer VR. That startup, however, didn’t survive as the market transitioned toward Oculus Quest. SideQuest, meanwhile, sprang up after developer Shane Harris realized in 2019 there was need for an easy to use tool for uploading or downloading content from Facebook’s otherwise highly curated Oculus Quest standalone.
Since its release, lots of Quest owners have turned to SideQuest to find cutting edge experimental content while developers use it as an early access distribution system for testing and feedback. It sounds like the founders plan to lean into user testing with SideQuest’s next steps. The idea looks like something a little like TestFlight and a little like Fishbowl.
“The platforms own the stores,” Shane Harris explained in a video call. “They win that race every time.”
Instead of competing as a sort of alternative store, though, over the long term he sees marketing and playtesting being two areas where SideQuest is particularly well-suited to help developers.
“We’re not interested in competing with Oculus or the other platform holders as the space emerges,” Harris said.
Facebook, meanwhile, started rolling out its now Oculus Developer Hub designed to make it easier and faster to iterate development and manage content on a Quest. Facebook is in the midst of an enormous transition as it requires all new headset owners use their Facebook account, and early next year the company will add an out-of-store distribution system for software developers on Oculus Quest.