Creating a VR App Store
VirtualReality.io was a VR app store that allowed users to download, play, and comment on applications without removing the headset. At its peak, VRIO hosted 50 applications. It was mentioned in Forbes, the New York Times, and Kotaku.
Solving a Problem for First-Gen Oculus Hardware
When the Oculus Rift DK1 was first released, there was a big need for VR software. Most folks were just sharing downloads via forums and random websites.
I decided to try to help the situation by creating a VR app store that allowed users to download, play, and comment on applications without removing the headset.
The website made access to a vast VR library a simple one-click process.
VRIO experimented with 3D navigation features and included app ratings, play stats, and comments.
For Oculus DK1
Launched before Oculus Share, VRIO helped distribute the earliest VR apps for the Oculus RIft DK1.
The service was built using Unity for the frontend and Ruby on Rails + AngularJS for the backend. Embedded Chrome was used to drive the 3D storefront. A C++ watcher app was written using JUCE to reboot the 3D interface when VR applications ended. VRIO was released and maintained for Windows and Mac.
I developed it part-time over a period of three months. One of the biggest hurdles was validating the experience would work for first-time VR users. I utilized extensive video-recorded user-testing to make sure the flow worked for a variety of personas.
I discontinued VRIO when Facebook acquired Oculus. It was clear that 3rd-party app stores would only become used to distribute unsavory content (porn) and I had no interest in pursuing that business.
My favorite part of this project was helping VR developers reach a wider audience. It was awesome to provide a network effect, where each developer’s success helped the others reach a wider audience. It was incredibly satisfying to help the burgeoning community succeed.
Keywords: VR, App Store, Startup, Distribution, Marketing