The developers of the To The Top climbing game are encouraged to continue work on their sequel knowing there is a route to release on Oculus Quest without Facebook’s approval.
Last month Electric Hat Games side-stepped Facebook’s decision to not release the app on the Oculus Store for Quest and instead brought their game to the headset via the SideQuest sideloading service and indie game store itch.io for around $15.
Facebook curates what games it allows released on the Oculus Quest store. The company designed the restriction to reinforce for Quest buyers that when they spend money on games and apps the software will deliver a certain level of quality and depth. Some more unusual, risky, or experimental projects, however, are often unable to pass Facebook’s developer relations filter.
Other Quest Paths
There is a kind of loophole which allows Quest owners to freely sign up as developers and “sideload” content on to the device acquired from other places, like SideQuest. This route helps developers test their products with colleagues, friends or family before pitching Facebook.
For a growing number of developers this is also a viable path for an assortment of purposes. Some devs essentially beta test their products this way, like shooting game Pavlov Shack, while the developer of utility software Virtual Desktop offers a patch for his Oculus Store app through SideQuest that adds a major feature some people love.
In the case of To The Top, Electric Hat Games say they sold more than 500 copies of the game through this route in the first month. Daniel Dunham, chief technical officer at the studio, characterized the figure as “pretty good” compared with To The Top’s first month on Steam.
“It also helps with confidence knowing that, when developing for Quest, there is a route to take if full platform support isn’t available,” Dunham shared with me.
Taxes And Fees
The math here is pretty straightforward. $15 per copy minus taxes and fees amounts to around $6,000 in revenue from this route over the first month. Certainly the kind of figure some might scoff at, but keep in mind they released on other platforms first and are also selling additional copies on PSVR, Steam and the Oculus Store for Rift. The devs also gained experience with cross-platform development which might be useful in future work. Dunham added that their new ideas and prototypes, while not outright “approved” for store release by Facebook, do seem to be of more interest to Oculus.
“We haven’t really made back as much as we put into the port (at least not yet, as time goes on, and if sales stay stable we will eventually),” Dunham wrote. “For us specifically, this was something that our players really wanted, so finding a way to make this happen was really important. As for what’s next, we are already working on a sequel, and this release definitely helps with understanding the market better – even if it’s just a small portion of the market that’s available.”
According to SideQuest creator Shane Harris, since the release of To The Top he saw an uptick in the number of paid projects launching on the platform.