Early access Oculus Quest2 games could soon be allowed to offer microtransactions and DLC, thanks to a change coming to Oculus' App Lab. Until now, the alternative Oculus marketplace only allowed games to charge upfront and gave them no way to offer add-ons.
App Lab effectively functions as an alternative to the Quest Store. It allows games that don't have approval to be sold directly to players (without resorting to sideloading and other complicated means) while keeping the official marketplace clean and curated with only approved titles. The move also allows games in early access to be developed with player feedback, giving smaller studios a chance to create new and exciting experiences.
However, the App Lab platform had its downsides, such as lacking DLC capabilities. According to RoadToVR (opens in new tab), an Oculus spokesperson has confirmed that the company is working to add DLC options for developers later this year. Right now we don't know when exactly the change will arrive, but we're expecting it to materialize within the coming months.
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Good for developers, good for players?
Gamers hate very little more than microtransactions, and that's especially true when the actual game isn't even finished yet. But while these tactics might look like an effort to put profits ahead of players, DLC and in-game purchases can be vital for ensuring a title can function.
Currently, App Lab developers are unable to use a free-to-play model, or if they do it limits how large their game's scope can grow. Without the ability to earn any continuous revenue through skins or other additional content, developers of these kinds of games have to hope that their own funds will stretch all the way until the game's full release.
The creators could charge upfront, but the free-to-play model relies on players being able to try something out without price barriers getting in the way. App Lab creators have had to choose between popularity and profitability, but the upcoming change means they could finally balance both.
Additionally, developers could use the change to fund new, worthwhile content. This could let App Lab games become more like Beat Saber, where new levels and tracks can be sold in addition to the base game.
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