The SideQuest team made some comments on the future of its sideloading app for Oculus Quest today, after Facebook detailed plans to let Quest developers distribute apps to select users directly without going through the store approval process, starting from next year.
SideQuest launched only a few days after the Oculus Quest, providing users with an easy GUI-based solution to sideload applications onto their device that were not available or approved for the heavily-curated official Oculus Quest Store. SideQuest has only grown in popularity over the last year, and has become a landmark tool for developers to distribute Quest applications. The applications available on SideQuest range from early demos to finished products, some of which were even rejected from the Quest store but made available to purchase and install through SideQuest.
Details are scarce on how the newly mentioned official non-store app distribution system for Quest will work, but there’s also the question of what the future of SideQuest might look like as well. Director of Content Ecosystem at Facebook, Chris Pruett, suggested that the new system will be “great for folks like SideQuest because it will greatly reduce the friction of getting apps on your headset.”
We reached out to SideQuest creator Shane Harris for comment after the Facebook announcement, and received the following statement:
“We at SideQuest are absolutely delighted with the announcement from Oculus with regard to more distribution options on Oculus Quest. We hope that we have played a part in showing the real value of the indie developer ecosystem. We will be working to integrate with the new direct link system as soon as we can and will be encouraging developers to explore the benefits of leveraging the Oculus ecosystem for a smoother user experience. This is a win for the whole SideQuest community!”
On Reddit, Harris also noted that the SideQuest team has always maintained that they “are not interested in taking revenue share from game developers or competing with Oculus,” as the main focus has always been on SideQuest acting as a testbed for developers.
Interestingly, Harris noted on Reddit that the team is looking at “building tools to allow users to earn cash and other rewards for helping to playtest new games and content on SideQuest.” If the new non-store distribution options for Quest impact SideQuest’s core features, or even make them redundant, then this could be a new viable direction for SideQuest.
“We are hoping we can make it super simple for you to play games and provide invaluable feedback in the form of recording gameplay video/audio and tracking key game metrics and getting paid. We are still in the planning stages but if you want to keep in the loop and help us build this out then please register you interest here.”
No matter how the non-store distribution system will work when it arrives in 2021, it seems likely that SideQuest will have to adapt to find its place in the new Quest software ecosystem.
To read more about how to sideload content onto your Oculus Quest using SideQuest, check out our guide, check out our list of the best apps available on SideQuest, and watch our in-VR interview with Harris from earlier this year.