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Quest Developers React to Meta Horizon OS & Partner Headset News

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Quest Developers React to Meta Horizon OS & Partner Headset News

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Quest Developers React to Meta Horizon OS & Partner Headset News



Meta’s big announcement this week—that it will allow select partners to build third-party headsets based on Horizon OS—will be felt for years to come. And for developers who get a large chunk of their business from the Quest platform, the stakes are real.

We reached out to a range of VR developers, all of which have shipped Quest games, and prompted them with the same set of questions about Meta’s Horizon OS news. (note: some developers chose not to answer certain questions in the set)

Denny Unger – Head of Cloudhead Games, Developers of Pistol Whip

Q: Do you think this is a smart move by Meta?

A: In some ways, the strategy [allowing Horizon OS to run on third-party headsets] de-emphasizes the specifics of the hardware and instead focuses on how the hardware amplifies the content. The important realization here is that a one-size-fits-all device or approach isn’t an ideal short-term play in the heated XR market. Users definitely gravitate towards different use cases, so really leaning into what makes this or that lane special (and profitable) is a smart move. The Golden Goose HMD that does ‘all the things’ while removing all points of friction remains years away.

Q: Do you think this will have any impact on your forward-looking business strategy?

A: Over the next 5–10 year period, as form-factors shrink and key technologies catch up to the vision, software studios caught in the middle need parity and stability to ride those tight margins to a new mainstream dawn. Everything key OEM’s can do to maintain ‘easy porting’, some sense of OS parity, hardware parity, and scalability is critical to maintaining the health of the software ecosystem. Ultimately hardware competition is pointless if XR studios are locked out of a specific platform due to software, hardware, or financial constraints.

Q: If you were Meta, how would you have approached this decision?

A: Like the console market before it, ‘mainstream’ hardware growth is intimately tied with matching consumer expectations on content but the resources to get there have always been out of balance in XR. I think Meta is making smart decisions here not only in terms of expanding hardware definitions to support key use cases, but also in bringing Applab out of hiding and under the fold of the main storefront. That move should help the software ecosystem grow in a more organic way, while still maintaining the importance of curation, ensuring quality always rises to the top. That mix of curation & organic discovery is something all VR storefronts should adopt.

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I genuinely hope we’re seeing the beginnings of a shift across the entire competitive XR landscape, to reframe the importance of software in VR/MR’s success. If studios can make deep investments into their teams and the software that makes this tech so magical, we’ll start building the foundation for a true mainstream.

Eddie Lee – Head of Funktronic Labs, Developers of Light Brigade

Q: Do you think this is a smart move by Meta?

A: I think it’s a win for the VR ecosystem—more devices, more industry buy-in, more hardware competition (and hopefully more players).

Q: What do you see as the pros and cons for you as a developer?

A: Massive con is that supporting multiple devices is always not fun. Theoretically the claim is that it should ‘just work’ [across headsets running the same platform] but unfortunately it is never the case, but I hope I am wrong. With developing on standalone systems, you really need to squeeze every computational cycle and optimize heavily for the specific hardware, especially in VR where every millisecond is critical for immersion. Indie VR dev teams are already small so adding more load and complexity will have a negative impact. Also, I’m not a huge fan of having to support multiple interaction paradigms (controllers, hand gestures, etc) since it fragments the player base even more in an already-niche ecosystem.

Q: Do you think this will have any impact on your forward-looking business strategy?

A: If more headsets, competition, and industry investments means larger VR demographic, I think it will be a net win. If not the case, then it will just mean more complexity for small studios.

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Bevan McKechnie – Head of Notdead Games, Developer of Compound

Q: What do you see as the pros and cons for you as a developer?

A: Purely as a developer, it seems like it could potentially be a good thing. I very much enjoy making games, but porting games to a bunch of slightly different platforms is very time consuming. It would be great if I could build my games just once and have them on one platform where they can be bought and run on a multitude of headsets made by different manufacturers. I (and others) could spend more time making games and less time porting them, which could potentially mean shorter development times, lower development costs, and more games.

Q: Do you think this will have any impact on your forward-looking business strategy?

A: I don’t think it will change any of my current strategies. I will make games and port them if the need arises. As long as other platforms continue to exist, then that step can’t be removed entirely. If this change results in a more consolidated and consistent development process, great! If not, well, I’ll just continue as I have been.

Q: If you were Meta, how would you have approached this decision?

A: At this early stage we don’t know too many of the finer details, but I haven’t noticed anything that immediately stood out as needed changing in my opinion. I think it’s fair to assume Meta is, like any company, working to make things go in their favor, but if things really do become more open, or at least semi-open, then I would like to be cautiously optimistic of a much more positive outcome than a single company controlling everything in its entirety.

Not directly related, but if I was Meta I’d be pushing for a lot more high quality games, but I’m bias as I’m a game dev. I don’t know if it’s a sound business decision, but if I had the power I’d have them more frequently and strongly support and fund amazing games that really put the incredible immersion and embodiment of VR on display. We need more games at the high level that Half-Life: Alyx set, but with more modern VR gameplay mechanics, to convince mainstream gamers that VR is the future.

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Lucas Rizzotto – Developer of Pillow

Q: Do you think this is a smart move by Meta?

A: Meta has always been a social product company, but for the past few years with the Quest they’ve become a console. This move realigns Meta’s role as a platform and allows them to get back to the social business. It’s called Meta Horizon for a reason—Meta’s social features will undoubtedly be built into the OS, and there’s no better way of owning the social layer of XR if your OS is the most popular option amongst VR/AR headsets.

Q: What do you see as the pros and cons for you as a developer?

A: Pros is that it stops fragmenting the store with the ‘end of app lab’. Although it’s sort of a ‘soft end’. if you look at the fine print, Meta is still keeping editorial control with an internal distinction between “premium” and “non premium” XR apps/games.

As for cons, we’ll probably see lots of copycat products popping up in the Quest store. Also this is paving the path for Meta to start charging developers for promotion on the store, so devs will probably have to pay meta to get promotion on top of the 30% store fee. But that’s further down the road.

Q: Do you think this will have any impact on your forward-looking business strategy?

A: I don’t think it’ll impact my strategy much, I’m hoping this means our product will be available in more headsets without us having to worry about porting.

Q: If you were Meta, how would you have approached this decision?

A: If I were Meta I’d have done the same thing to be honest, it’s just another chess move to help them achieve market dominance and get ahead of what Google and Samsung are planning.



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