Sideloading Platform SideQuest Takes $650,000 Investment from BoostVC, Palmer Luckey
The small “pre-seed” funding will go into a testing service as well as a number of tools for VR developers. The investment from the Oculus founder was ousted from Facebook is notable. In a prepared statement, Luckey stated that no hardware manufacture “should have a stranglehold on the VR ecosystem or unilateral control over what (content) people run on their VR headsets”. This is no doubt a stab at Facebook which is looking to dominate the VR ecosystem.
With its recent release of the high-spec but affordably priced Oculus Quest 2 headset, Facebook is looking to zone in the VR hardware market. It treats the Oculus Quest headset the same way Sony treats its PlayStation gaming consoles or Microsoft its Xbox console; as a self-contained gaming HMD that is also tethered to a platform-specific app/experience marketplace. Facebook would want Quest owners to purchase all their content via the Oculus Store but at the same time, it has stringent measures in place to ensure only the highest quality content gets to its store. That often excludes many other really good VR experiences and the SideQuest sideloading platform provides these third-party developers with a roundabout route through which they can still get their apps to Quest owners if those apps fail to meet Facebook’s brutal vetting and curation process. SideQuest is an alternative marketplace for the apps that Facebook isn’t interested in selling. As Oculus Quest grows into the industry workhorse, particularly following the launch of the game-changing Oculus Quest 2, the SideQuest platform is going to gain greater relevance and play a critical role in VR content distribution.
In the latest funding round, $500,000 of the funds raised came from the BoostVR accelerator. The remaining $150,000 came from The Fund and Palmer Luckey.
SideQuest will be using the new cash infusion to expand its team and create additional features for the platform.
Many developers use SideQuest as their early access distribution system for testing and feed for their apps. On the other hand, Quest owners use the platform to try out and discover new and cutting-edge experimental content. The SideQuest founders appear to be keen on leveraging the testing with SideQuest side of things, a use-case somewhere between Fishbowl and TestFlight.
SideQuest founder Shane Harris sees the platform being primarily big on marketing and playtesting by developers rather than a direct competitor for Quest or even an alternative store.
Meanwhile, Facebook is also in the process of rolling out its Oculus Developer Hub that aims to simplify and speed up the iteration of development and management of content on Quest. Facebook is also currently undergoing a major transition with privacy implications as it now requires new Quest headset owners to use their real Facebook account. In early 2021, Facebook is also planning to launch an out-of-store distribution system for software developers on Quest.