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Oculus won’t approve Quest games unless it thinks people will buy them

Oculus will enforce tight rules for publishing a game or app on the Oculus Quest, asking developers to demonstrate “quality and probable market success” on the upcoming virtual reality headset. In a blog post yesterday, publishing director Chris Pruett wrote that Oculus is setting the standard for Quest apps “higher than we’ve ever enforced before,” compared to standards for the Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, or Oculus Go. Pruett says the move will give Quest owners a consistently good experience, while preventing developers from sinking resources into games that don’t sell.

The Oculus Store already vets apps, but for the Quest, developers will need to provide a “concept document” before they can start the submission process. “We’re looking for evidence of quality and probable market success,” writes Pruett, as well as compliance with Oculus’ existing content guidelines. “The concept submission process is a chance for developers to show us not only how cool their title will be, but also to explain how it will resonate with the Quest audience.”

Developers can submit Quest concepts starting in early March. Oculus isn’t changing the submission process for other headsets, and it tells UploadVR that people can still sideload unofficial apps onto the Quest if they turn on Developer Mode — the goal is just to control what appears in the store. Other Oculus headsets have an “Early Access” program for unfinished games, but UploadVR reports that the Quest won’t have one at launch.

Facebook-owned Oculus is banking on the Quest — a self-contained $399 headset with the same basic features as a high-end, PC-powered Oculus Rift — as a potential breakthrough moment for VR. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called it “the foundation of a new generation of VR” and the final product in Oculus’ first generation of headsets. “As a brand-new platform that will be introducing VR to many people for the first time, we want to make sure that new Oculus Quest players find the best types of experiences they expect from a VR title,” reads yesterday’s post.

But the post also portrays this as a way to protect developers. “If we feel that your app is not a fit for Quest, we’d like to let you know that early in the development process, before you’ve made significant production investments,” Pruett writes. This argument makes more sense in VR than it would on most other platforms, because it’s incredibly hard to make money on a VR-only game, especially if it can’t launch on a flagship device.

At this point, the question is how Oculus is defining a “high bar” for Quest apps, especially since we still don’t know the headset’s launch lineup or its exact technical specifications. But the Quest is supposed to be shipping soon, with some speculation it could launch during Facebook’s F8 conference at the end of April. And Oculus will appear at next month’s Game Developers Conference — where it’s made hardware and software announcements in previous years.

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