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Status: New Idea

Hello,
As an Indie developer who has recently started working in the VR industry and released my second app in App Lab (https://www.meta.com/experiences/6767319019991390/), one of the biggest challenges and terrible developer experiences that I face with the Quest Store is how it just stops every app from entering the main store. Not only that, it's literally impossible to search for apps in App Lab unless you know the exact app name. I have been working for around 8 years, releasing apps for the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. As someone who has received millions of downloads and made tens of thousands of successful purchases in my app, I want to share three ways the Quest Store can become a better place for indie developers and small teams.

 

1. Make Apps Searchable.

What is a marketplace, and when do transactions take place?

"A marketplace is a place where a buyer and a seller meet. A transaction is when the buyer and seller have finalized an agreement for transferring goods, services, or financial assets in exchange for money."

From this very textbook definition, we can say that Quest Store is a marketplace where developers and users meet, and there's a transaction when the user decides to purchase an app. However, imagine what happens when the buyer never actually finds the seller. This is exactly what is happening with the Quest Store. An average Joe doesn't know which app to use or buy. He opens the store and puts something he wants there, but unfortunately, the search is super limited, and he never comes across the apps that might suit his needs. For example, if a user wants to play a dinosaur game in his Meta Quest headset and goes to store search and enters "dino games", he finds no results or very limited results pop up because the games that are actually dinosaur-based are titled differently; maybe the title is "T-Rex Hunter" or "Jurasic World" or maybe the game is in the App Lab.

What this means is that unless you're a hotshot title like "WhatsApp", "Instagram" or "Roblox", you will have a very limited chance of coming up in search results (that is, if you are in the main store), and pretty much no chance if you are a developer still hanging in App Lab dynamics. Imagine what the world would be like if the Apple App Store or Google Play Store did this in their stores a decade ago.

Now, how do we fix this issue? It's simple. Make it easy for an average user to search in stores. That means that an average Joe may not know all the exact search terms; his input will be like "photo editor", "record audio", "karaoke app" etc. It's the job of a good marketplace to use an app's title, short description, and long description to generate good search results. This has been the secret sauce to the App Store's or Google Search Engine's success forever. People go to Google because they get relevant results and not because they're given very based results, which helps only a handful of top game studios.

 

2. Make Apps Discoverable.

If you are lucky enough to have been curated in the main Quest Store listing, then there's a good chance that your app will be discoverable on the Quest Store home page. But what about the thousands of App Lab apps that have zero chance of ever being discovered on the home page?

One of the driving forces behind my previous success with the Apple App Store or Google Play Store has been that my apps would be organically discoverable in searches as well as on the store's home page. Imagine a simple example: A user wants to learn a new language, and he searches for "Duolingo," a very popular app for learning languages. The App Store understands that this user has an interest in learning languages, so what the store does is curate a list of other alternative apps that might provide similar functionality below the "Duolingo" store listing. Not only that, the store ensures that when the user visits stores again, he may find a wide variety of different apps that the user may feel interested in installing from the store's home page. What that means is Apple or Google doesn't restrict, like, "Oh well, I will not show app lab apps instead here; check out Beat Saber for one billionth time."

How do we fix this issue? We simply make the Quest Store more user-friendly. We allow Quest Store to not just allow a handful of big titles; instead, we allow smaller apps and apps from App Lab to be easily discoverable in the user's recommendation on the store page, as well as showing up in the user's search results with more relevant apps.

 

3. Make the search list paginated.

One of the strangest things about how a search result appears is that it has a horizontal row called "Apps", then there's another row called "Bundles", and finally "App Labs" (most of the time it never appears). Now this "Apps" section shows, which I think from the top of my head, like 10 apps, with the last item being the "See More" button. Now what I understand is that a common user has no motivation whatsoever to scroll all the way to the end of the horizontal list and then tap on the "See More" button, which shows maybe 15–25 more apps. Secondly, even if the user taps to see more apps, there is no search result pagination to allow the user to look for more apps. So if they don't get what they want from the 15–25 results, then they will have to go back. Finally, it makes no sense to put bundles in the app search list. If Meta wants, it can pretty much show the bundle pack inside the app's store listing page because that's where it belongs.

I think the search page should be a straight-forward, vertically scrollable page, much like the Apple App Store search result. It is okay to take advantage of the width and show like 4 apps on each row, and as the user scrolls down, more apps should be loaded. There can be a tag "

Spoiler
App Lab

" on top of those apps that are from App Lab. Merging the search results will provide an easy-to-search experience. Bundles can be easily found inside the app's store listing, and users will find more opportunities to try different apps.

Conclusion

There are tons of other poor developer experiences that I can talk about, like no option to use a subscription in App Lab apps, no option to use "App Ads" for App Lab apps, no way to use in-app ads in our apps and no way to submit apps to the main store listing.

I understand Quest Store wants to curate only quality apps, but stopping hundreds of thousands of apps from being discovered makes it super hard for indie developers. It seems like the platform works specifically to favor big players in the market. We, the common developer, don't have the budget to be able to use paid marketing, nor do we have a connection with internal Meta Team employees or managers to help us push our app to the storefront from day one.

I feel more shocked when a third-party site like "

Spoiler
SideQuest

" has better developer support, and I was staff-picked by their team. It's strange to see the chaos of thousands of developers waiting in SideQuest in hopes of getting their chance at the Quest Store, and I have to admit they make pretty dope games and apps. I certainly feel it's unfair when 5% of Quest Store apps get 95% of the audience and the other 95% of apps have low to zero visibility.

This post turned out pretty long, but I tried to provide constructive criticism. I hope someone from the Meta Team might read this and use my insight to provide a welcoming experience for developers.