Some Developers on Meta Quest 2’s App Lab Already Earning Millions
Meta’s App Lab provides an alternative pathway through which developers unable to get past the strict curation of the Oculus Store can install and distribute their apps in Oculus Quest and Meta Quest 2 headsets.
App Lab provides a way for VR studios and developers to experiment with their app ideas and get valuable feedback from the community of early adopters which goes into improving the app. For the community, App Lab gives access to content variety with its unusual and sometimes exciting content offering.
In the early days of VR when there was still a dearth of content in the Oculus Store, this gap was filled by the sideloading platform SideQuest. App Lab gives an edge over SideQuest in that you don’t have to go through the often-cumbersome sideloading process and it allows users to download virtual reality with only a few clicks. App Lab also allows developers to get a wider reach for their content with its sharing features via a link and app access codes.
Titles on App Lab aren’t listed or even advertised on the official Oculus Store. You can access apps on App Lab via the store URLs or by typing the name of the app into the Oculus Store search. As a result, the apps are mainly accessible via word of mouth. Developers are also allowed to distribute the access codes for their apps.
App Lab has been very successful for Meta in that it has expanded the content ecosystem and made more interesting titles available to its users.
From its launch in February 2021 to date, close to 1,200 virtual reality titles have been added to App Lab according to VRDB. This is thrice the number of titles in the official Quest Store that has been around since May 2019. In its first months, testing on App Labs took longer as there was such a rush of new content that Meta had to bolster its teams.
App Lab isn’t just successful on the quantitative front. Success has also been qualitative. There is a growing number of App Lab apps that are upgrading to the official Oculus Store.
Some of these apps have already amassed a massive fanbase. A good example is the catch game Gorilla Tag which has amassed almost as many ratings on App Lab as Beat Saber in the official store. As of June 29th, 2022, Gorilla Tag had 36,500 ratings compared to Beat Saber’s 43,800. Its ratings are also more than any of the commercial VR titles that are on the Oculus Store.
Apps on App Lab are offered either free or through a one-time payment in App Lab. From late 2021, developers are also able to monetize their apps with DLCs and microtransactions.
In a recent Ruff Talk VR Podcast episode, Meta Manager Chris Pruett delved into the commercial success of App Lab. Pruett heads the company’s content ecosystem and also manages third-party developers publishing virtual reality content on both App Lab and Oculus Store.
Pruett says that although App Lab is only a “holding area” and waiting space for entry into the official store, there are developers who already seeing financial success on the platform and generating incomes comparable to what some developers make in the store. Pruett noted that some developers were making “millions of dollars” through App Lab as they have been able to reach out to their communities and promote their apps on their own. App Lab also allows them to easily share their content via a link which is much easier to use than sideloading in SideQuest.
Pruett didn’t reveal the virtual reality apps on App Lab that are generating millions of dollars in revenue but they are likely to be apps such as Gorilla Tag which generates its revenues from the sales of cosmetic items even though the app itself is free. There is also Gym Class – Basketball with over 13,000 ratings or Sport Mode which has more than 4,700 ratings and is a premium app costing roughly $10.
Only a few App Lab games have these numbers of ratings. Their popularity shows that App Lab can indeed be a standalone springboard for commercially successful apps with massive fanbases.
You can listen to Pruett on this podcast from the 19.00 minute.