One of the largest problems plaguing fledgling software platforms is discoverability. Developers often have a hard time getting their products in front of consumers, let alone convincing them to follow through with a purchase. It's especially difficult on a platform like the Oculus Quest. The VR Collection bundle, a new initiative from VR designer Julien Dorra, is trying to alleviate some of those issues by making it easy to pay a discounted price for a surprise bundle of games from indie VR creators.
"If you want a sustainable real ecosystem, you need to have small successes," Dorra said. "That's what we're trying to ignite, to help small developers and small games become small successes and turn into bigger successes." Dorra led development on the Oculus Quest puzzle game Peco Peco from studio Bentham Realities, and he says there's an acute problem in the wireless VR space around discoverability.
Dorra said it takes weeks or even months to get approved by Facebook to sell your game to Quest customers, and there's little in the way of marketing support and other benefits unless you happen to be a larger studio with a closer relationship with the Oculus team.
Facebook tried to solve some of these issues with the introduction of App Lab, an early-access channel launched in February for in-development VR apps and games designed to make it easier to get software onto headsets without so many logistics hurdles. But Dorra said it doesn't go far enough in helping indies. On top of that, Oculus keeps its standard 30% cut of all sales, making it that much more difficult to succeed financially.
VR Collection is a way to go direct to consumers by bundling between two and five games together for a variety of prices, ranging from around $8 to $20. It's the third such bundle from Dorra and his collaborators, after the success of his Waiting for App Lab and Lab Surprise bundles earlier this year. It currently contains 19 games from 23 developers.
The catch: You don't know what you're buying before you buy it, but you do know the price. In that way, it's similar to blind box toy bundles used in collectibles industries like toys and trading cards. Developers keep all of the proceeds — they don't have to fork over 30% to Oculus — and customers receive Oculus Store keys to download the games they receive from App Lab.
"We want to try and be whimsical," Dorra says. "Game marketing should be creative, and VR game marketing really should be creative."