Meta to Dissolve App Lab Next Month, Putting More Steam Behind Early Access Program

Meta’s App Lab distribution channel for early access games is still around, but it won’t be for long. Although Meta made App Lab content searchable on the main store for the first time earlier this summer, now the company is preparing for App Lab’s complete dissolution next month, putting more of a Steam-like emphasis on Early Access moving forward.

Update (July 8th, 2024): Meta announced in a developer blogpost that starting August 5th, all content previously shipped in App Lab will be on the main Horizon Store (ex-Quest Store). Notably, this will feature all existing App Lab apps, including those under development and under review.

The company is also allowing developers to use ‘Early Access’ badges for their games, although previous App Lab games are not required to use it.

Image courtesy Meta

Meta notes that all apps submitted to the Horizon Store must meet a variety of Virtual Reality Checks (VRCs), which include a number of performance, security, tracking, and functionality checks.

The original article detailing App Lab discoverability follows below:

Original Article (May 14th, 2024): Meta is making its operating system and app store available on third-party VR headsets sometime soon, and one of the bigger changes coming to the platform is the blurring of the barrier between the Main Store and App Lab.

Besides offering a way for studios to publish their titles in early access, App Lab also lets any developer who meets basic technical and content requirements ship software on the platform, effectively making it open to studios of any size.

Now App Lab has its own section of the store, making those indie titles and early access games a lot more visible. To boot, App Lab games were previously hidden in the Main Store, but are now showing up in search results, appended with the new ‘App Lab’ section title.

Meta has also removed the previous pop-up warning as well when viewing an App Lab game, replacing it with a smaller note next to the game’s user rating, stating “This app may be experimental or still in development.”

Elevating App Lab games makes a good deal of sense considering how well indie titles like Gorilla Tag have fared through the parallel distribution in the past, which to date is not only the platform’s most reviewed game, but has also generated the most revenue on Quest. It’s likely the company will look to further dissolve the boundaries between Main Store and App Lab as it begins licensing Horizon OS (ex-Quest OS).


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