The hunt for visibility on Quest Retailer: how the search updates affected App Lab downloads

Just lately Meta has announced its imaginative and prescient of eradicating the separation between the Meta Horizon Retailer (previously referred to as Meta Quest Retailer) and its indie App Lab version and has already taken some steps on this sense by making App Lab titles seem within the search outcomes. However is that this sufficient? What have been the advantages to indie devs? What can the corporate nonetheless do to enhance the scenario? Let’s see that intimately on this publish.

Meta Quest has a curated retailer that options solely titles that go a selected bar that Meta has arbitrarily determined. All different indie titles can nonetheless be revealed on the identical retailer, however they’re marked as “App Lab” experiences. App Lab video games have entry to fewer options and have the large downside of not being searchable: they’re like unlisted movies on Youtube, and until you understand precisely the place to search for them, you’ll be able to’t discover them. This can be a downside for indie recreation studios: if a title cannot be discovered, it cannot be bought, and so it’s very arduous for indie titles to generate good revenues.

However just lately Meta has acknowledged the worth of indie titles for Digital Actuality, additionally as a result of big hits like Beat Saber and Gorilla Tag come from small unknown firms. So it has began the method of eradicating the barrier between App Lab and the official retailer and it has already taken two vital steps on this route:

  • App Lab titles at the moment are searchable, each within the cellular app and within the VR interface (I personally verified on each of them). If earlier than you needed to search for the precise title, now you’ll be able to simply search for one of many phrases of the title for the shop search engine to search out the sport. So, taking our recreation “HitMotion: Reloaded” for example, simply on the lookout for “hitmotion” or “reloaded” finds the sport. The video games are additionally clearly seen, and the consumer doesn’t should develop a collapsed App Lab part. That is nice for making your recreation discoverable by individuals who don’t precisely keep in mind the title of your expertise
app lab discoverability search result
I used to be extremely completely satisfied that I used to be capable of finding my recreation by simply on the lookout for part of its title!
  • The warning concerning the app being inside App Lab will not be anymore a scary popup, that seemed prefer it was going to make your headset to blow up. Now there’s only a discrete label saying that the sport is experimental, which is completely positive for informing the customers with out scaring them away.
app lab warning now discrete
The shop web page of Hitmotion seems like that in my PC browser. Earlier than there was an enormous popup, now just a bit label to warn about App Lab

These are two HUGE steps ahead for indie VR titles. Positive, I feel they need to have occurred years in the past, however higher late than by no means. Lastly, individuals will be capable of search for our indie video games and discover them!

The impression on the downloads

I puzzled how this impacted the downloads of my titles on App Lab. Since individuals at the moment are capable of finding them extra simply, I imagined that this might have generated a bit of spike in my obtain counts. I wasn’t anticipating an enormous increase, however one thing much like what occurs throughout the Christmas holidays: an upward development. I so opened my Oculus Dashboard and that is the graph that I discovered for one among my apps:

App Lab downloads count
Mainly, nothing has modified for the reason that announcement

I used to be fairly confused, so I additionally had a have a look at the opposite apps I handle, and I discovered comparable outcomes. The obtain rely was not impacted by this alteration. I so requested my pal Julien Dorra, who has all the time pushed for supporting VR indie devs and each he and his pals declare this replace has not had a lot impression on their obtain counts. I used to be fairly confused and I began to query what may very well be the explanations for that, and after some thought, I understood the scenario higher.

Individuals should be on the lookout for the app

This replace has any sense provided that persons are actively on the lookout for your app. Perhaps they noticed a Tweet (ooops, an X) of yours about your recreation, or they simply learn an article on Add about it. In order that they search for your recreation on the Quest, discover it, and play it. But when your recreation is relatively outdated (like Hitmotion), there are usually not 1000’s of individuals particularly on the lookout for it, so this searchability replace will not be having any huge constructive impact.

For my part, it will likely be new video games which might be principally going to learn from it, as a result of they are going to keep on advertising and marketing campaigns and so there might be individuals who don’t keep in mind precisely the secret however are discovering it anyway on the shop due to this new replace. Previous video games, as an alternative, are usually not getting a lot from it.

The search works solely on phrases of the title

It’s fairly weird that the search on the titles of an AppLab occurs solely by phrases within the recreation title. Let’s take my recreation “HitMotion: Reloaded”. In case you search for “Hitmotion”, you discover it, as we noticed above. In case you search for “hitm”, you discover it as properly.

app lab discoverability search result
Even only a partial match works find the sport. That is superb for discoverability

However if you happen to search for “health” or “boxing” you don’t discover it in any respect. Have a look at this screenshot:

fitness app lab search
Ours is a health recreation, however it does seem nowhere if I search for health functions

Official Horizon Retailer titles are simply seemed by class, and if I seek for a “health” recreation, I discover all the most well-liked ones (e.g. FitXR, OnShape, and so forth…). However App Lab video games are filtered solely primarily based on the title, so I discover solely the video games which have “health” within the recreation title. That is unhealthy as a result of discoverability by class is extremely vital: it could make new individuals uncover my recreation even when they didn’t realize it existed, simply because it popped up after they had been on the lookout for a health recreation.

app lab search meta quest virtual reality
Additionally on the lookout for live shows didn’t discover VRROOM however solely Amaze VR Live shows, even when VRROOM is far a greater match for live shows than The Climb (why the hell did it discover THE CLIMB?)

This dangers that indie video games to extend their discoverability provides key phrases to the title, just like the gadgets to purchase on Aliexpress: I ought to in all probability rename my recreation to “Hitmotion boxing health shed extra pounds enjoyable digital actuality rabbit dick potato blue coaching exercise schooling: Reloaded” and see if I can have the identical obtain rely as XR Exercise 🙂

There isn’t a App Lab class

app lab on meta quest horizon store
Mockup of how the App Lab apps will seem contained in the official Meta Horizon Retailer web page. As you’ll be able to see the plan is to have a devoted class (Picture by Meta)

Meta has promised us a brand new App Lab tab class, the place individuals can go and discover new titles. This has not come but, that means that individuals can solely discover our video games by search. The second there’s a class, with some featured video games, individuals can uncover indie titles by devoted banners that promote them inside that tab. SideQuest, for example, has all the time had a giant banner to advertise the newest or the most effective video games and this was one thing capable of increase the obtain numbers.

We want a method for App Lab video games to be featured. Meta promised it, so I do know it’s coming, however I would love this to come back as quickly as potential.

App Lab titles don’t seem in New Releases

One other method via which customers uncover new video games is the “New Releases” tab, the place they will uncover what are the newest revealed video games. However New Releases function solely video games from the official retailer, so new indie titles cannot be found from there.

Are there titles with particular therapy?

This isn’t instantly associated to obtain numbers, however I’ve skilled an incoherency in my search outcomes: when on the lookout for Niantic’s new Hello Dot experience, the sport appeared with the opposite search outcomes from the official retailer, whereas on the lookout for my video games, I simply discovered them within the App Lab class. See these photos to grasp what I imply:

app lab discoverability search result
Hitmotion seems within the App Lab part
hello dot peridot app lab quest
Whats up Dot will not be within the App Lab class, however it’s simply marked as App Lab among the many common apps…

I’m wondering if this occurs as a result of Whats up Dot is a brand new title, as a result of Niantic has an settlement with Meta to go on the Quest Retailer, or if that is only a bug that must be fastened.

The brand new competitors with XBox

Let’s look once more on the above image the place I seemed for the “Hitm” search phrase. Do you discover something unusual?

app lab discoverability search result

A 2D title from Xbox gaming seems within the search outcome. That is good and unhealthy on the identical time. It’s good for Quest individuals with an Xbox Cloud subscription as a result of so in only one place they will look each for VR video games and 2D video games to play on an enormous digital display. It’s not good for us indie creators as a result of now we don’t have solely to compete within the search outcomes with the richer official Quest Retailer VR titles, however additionally with the 2D Xbox titles, that are possibly already well-known. Have a look at the image: I do know that it’s a bit like evaluating pears with potatoes, however what title would you play between the well-known Hitman and the indie Hitmotion?

Ultimate opinion: it’s a very good begin, however…

I feel that Meta is headed in the precise route and I like that they need to have only one open retailer like Steam. And I’m additionally completely satisfied that it has already taken a number of steps on this route, making App Lab titles searchable. The scenario can also be evolving quickly: a number of days in the past the search labored solely on the cellular app, whereas now it additionally works correctly contained in the headset.

However it’s nonetheless not sufficient: in case you are an indie VR creator, you shouldn’t rely an excessive amount of on this within the brief time period, so it’s nonetheless vital you do heavy advertising and marketing within the VR communities. Plus, all these updates which might be coming, are principally going to positively have an effect on new titles or outdated titles which might be doing constant updates and advertising and marketing. When you have an current recreation you aren’t selling a lot anymore, it’s arduous that it’s going to be magically lifted by the brand new upcoming retailer insurance policies… until some lucky occasion occurs (e.g. an influencer finds your recreation and streams it to his/her million followers).

I stay longing for the long run, however I’m wondering how a lot time this transition will take for Meta…

(Header picture by Meta)

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