There is a lot of online information to help virtual reality (VR) app developers, but it is found across different websites and blogs. At least, that was our experience. Therefore, we're publishing our journey to develop the SURGERY PREP app in case our experience is helpful for other developers. If it is, please let us know. We'd love to hear from you! Admittedly, we're early on in the journey as the app was just released in the App Store in September, 2023. We'll be updating this page as the journey unfolds!
We started our development process by deciding on VR hardware for app development as the hardware influences how the app will be programmed. We chose the Quest due to its popularity but advise other developers to consider different hardware options to meet their needs.
Next, we selected an app distribution service to release our Meta Quest app to the public. To the best of our knowledge, there are three options for new Quest app releases: App Lab, SideQuest or Steam. (The main Meta app store is not available for new app releases.) We chose App Lab because it is a distribution service that feeds into the main Meta app store, assuming your app reaches a certain level of popularity. App Lab's downside is the stringent vetting process. We discuss our experience below.
Prior to submitting your app for an App Lab release, you'll need to set up a profile through the Meta Quest Developer Center at https://developer.oculus.com/. A screenshot of the Meta Quest Developer Center homepage is shown to the left. There are two key pieces of information to verify your existence as the app developer:
Please note these were the verification requirements when we set up our profile in June, 2023. Meta may change verification and other requirements needed to set up your profile in the future.
After setting up our profile, we began the app submission process. Here are the main submission components:
Approval time: About two months after the original submission (from July 24, 2023 to September 22, 2023) that spanned multiple resubmissions as indicated by the screenshot to the left showing multiple red buttons before reached a green button that signals approval. We received initial feedback about five weeks after our initial submission and about a week after each resubmission.
Issues: Luckily, we hired top-notch programmers so all the issues were due to the documentation. The app description initially stated that the app was for kids. We then specified that the app was for adolescents, 13 years old and older (the minimium allowable age at the time of submission). The app was subsequently rejected because the privacy statement referred to children, even though the reference indicated we would not collect data on children younger than 13 years old. We changed the language to refer to minors and not children. We're providing you with this level of detail to encourage you with your own submissions. Be prepared to go through several rounds of review and address multiple issues. You can make it through the review process too!
Once the app submission was complete and the app went live, we began tracking the app's visibility and downloads through different sources.
Meta Quest Developer dashboard: You'll find "link clicks" and "conversions" under the "Marketing Attribution" tab (shown in the screenshot to the left). "Link clicks" indicate how many times individuals clicked on a link that directed them to your app's landing page to purchase the app through Meta's distribution service, in this instance, the App Lab. The number of "conversions" indicate the number of times someone purchased your app through Meta's distribution service. It may seem intuitive to find these analytics if you click on the "Analytics Overview" tab. However, nothing will display under this tab until you have at least 100 "active lifetime users".
Meta financial statement: About a month and a half after your app is released, Meta will begin emailing monthly financial statements to the email you provided when you filled out your profile through the Meta Quest Developer dashboard. The statement will show the number of downloads (or "conversions" indicated on the Developer dashboard) and your revenue (70% of the app purchase price).
SideQuest website: We created a SideQuest profile and linked our app so it could be found on their website. Besides providing an app promotion opportunity, SideQuest displays app analytics to indicate "Views" on their website and "Clicks" similar to "link clicks" on the Meta Quest Developer dashboard. It's important to note that SideQuest uses the "Clicks" and "Downloads" terms interchangeably, so you don't overestimate the number of people who have downloaded your app. You need to view Meta's analytics for this information. Nonetheless, SideQuest analytics provide another source to help you better gauge your app's visibility in the VR community.