Oculus Distribution Channel Guide

Oculus Developer Blog
Posted by Kenji Iguchi
February 20, 2018

Made an App? Let's Share It With the World!

Once you've crafted your VR creation, the next thing to do is to share it with the world. Rift and Gear VR both run on top of the Oculus platform, which features many ways for you to easily distribute your apps: selling apps through the Oculus Store, running a limited beta test, or even hand-selling apps offline. The Oculus platform also allows you to utilize our network infrastructure and Platform SDK features. This article will go over the various forms of distribution supported by our platform.

The Methods of Distribution

Start by uploading your app binary to the Oculus Dashboard, a section of the Oculus Developer Center. From there, you can choose from among three major types of distribution methods, each with differences in the review processes and the abilities granted to you:

  • Oculus Store
  • Oculus Keys
  • Release Channels

Distribution through the Oculus Store

This is where your app shows up in the Oculus Store for public availability. It can be considered the most straightforward method of distribution, but also one where we review your app with the most scrutiny. To distribute an app in this form, you will need to upload your app to the dashboard and submit it for review by our Store team. They will examine your app, and once your app passes review, it will appear in the Oculus Store in the into the following sections:

  • Apps: utility applications such as video players and creativity tools
  • Games: interactive content with rules where the player can either win or lose
  • Entertainment: narrative-driven experiences that may be minimally or fully interactive, but lack the ruleset and win/lose state of a game
  • Early Access: content that is interesting, playable, and well on its way to being finished. This category provides a means for developers to charge for their work-in-progress, while giving early users the chance to be a part of the development process.

Apps that pass review are also granted the ability to generate Oculus Keys. We'll talk about them in the next section.

Oculus Keys Distribution

Oculus Keys are 25-letter-long download codes that developers can generate for themselves. Once you are granted the ability to generate Oculus Keys, if you generate a key for your app and give it to someone else, users will be able to download it by entering the key into the “Redeem Code” section in the Oculus app. You can do whatever you want with the keys, be it selling them, giving them away, or printing them out and distributing them offline; we do not ask royalties for profit made from them. Keys can be useful, for instance, for giving out review copies to media.

Apps distributed in the Oculus Store are automatically granted the ability to generate Oculus Keys, but can alternatively request to distribute an app only through keys and not through the store. This is a good option for enterprise-use apps, apps intended for attendees of a certain event, or other apps that require limited availability. You can request for keys-only reviews by going to the dashboard and entering “Please review for keys only” in the Message For Reviewers text field right before submitting.

Not all apps are appropriate or intended for distribution to a general audience, but still contribute to a healthy VR ecosystem. Our solution to enable distribution for these apps are Oculus Keys. These apps typically consist of content that is clearly an advertisement, B2B applications, apps that contain only a handful of videos, and apps that have no utility outside of a specific context (such as a conference).

In some instances, apps that do not meet our technical or quality standards are also designated as “keys only” applications. In these cases we encourage developers to use their keys to solicit additional user feedback and further test their VR application before resubmitting for review.

Distribution through release channels

Release Channels are yet another form of limited distribution, good for use while your app is still in development.

When you upload your app to the Developer Dashboard, you are given the choice of uploading into several “channels”, with names like STORE, ALPHA, BETA, and RC. With the exception of the STORE channel, you can grant or revoke user-level access to each by adding or removing a test user’s email address (tied to their Oculus ID) to or from specific channels. (STORE is a special channel which should be used only when submitting your app for Store review.)

Each Release Channel can have up to 100 users assigned to them. Since distribution through release channels do not require review, it comes in handy when you want to share your app with friends, or run a limited beta test.

Distribution MethodGood for
StoreApps, Games, Experiences and Early Access with compelling user benefits and high production value
Oculus Keys DistributionReview copies, events, offline sales, etc.
Release ChannelsBeta testing

Note: You can use more than one method for the same app. For example, it is possible to have an app available in the store, providing crowdfunding backer rewards through keys, and running a closed beta test of an upcoming version using release channels, all at the same time.

I hope this document helps in understanding the various functionalities of the Oculus platform. The Developer Dashboard holds many more features that weren't covered here. Even if you don't have immediate plans to submit an app, we recommend you open the Dashboard and play around with it to familiarize yourself.