Are there too few VR games for Pico 4 and is Sidequest the solution?
Pico 4 owners hope for a rapidly growing game catalog. How big is the selection at launch and could sideloading be the solution for too few games?
The Pico 4 is officially available and wants to outpace Meta in the field of standalone VR headsets. On paper, the Pico 4 (review) scores with more modern technology.
However, Meta has a decisive advantage: the well-stocked Quest Store. The amount of available content at the launch of the Pico 4 was too small for some users. One possibility to get a lot of new software quickly would be the VR app platform Sidequest.
Quest Store, App Lab, Sideloading - Meta Quest (2) already has almost too much software
There are currently 416 VR games and VR apps in Meta's official Quest Store, and the number is growing. In addition, there are well over a thousand entries in Meta's App Lab.
Here, developers can offer experimental VR apps that are not yet ready for the official store. Meta 2021 created an official Sidequest alternative with the App Lab. Sidequest also offers experimental VR content, but is not bound to Meta's content guidelines. That's why ports of retro games like Doom, Quake or Half-Life also appear here.
Unauthorized content has always been a thorn in Meta's side, partly because the company feared lawsuits for copyrighted material or malware introduced through sideloading. For gamers, however, Sidequest opened up an extensive catalog of games. In 2019, the then-Facebook legally protected itself from abuse by adjusting its policies and threatening pirates with a ban.
As a result, some developers took copyrighted material off the platform. However, this did not dampen Sidequest's success. The platform continues to burst at the seams and still offers countless sideloadable VR apps today - including apps from Meta's App Lab.
Are there too few VR games for Pico 4?
So if you buy a Meta Quest (2) today, you can be sure that there is no shortage of VR content. However, things look different when buying a Pico 4. There were about 230 VR games in the Pico 4's App Store at launch. Exclusive titles: a complete absence. Is that too few for a launch?
When Meta Quest launched in May 2019, the store contained just 60 pieces of content. The supply grew, but the Quest Store didn't reach about 150 VR games until September 2020. Meta Quest 2 was released in the same month.
Since all VR games in the Quest Store were still running on both platforms at the time, Meta Quest 2 had access to 155 games at launch. So the difference between the competing VR headsets Pico 4 and Meta Quest 2 in native VR games in the official stores at launch is small. Since both VR headsets can stream PC VR content from SteamVR, the big differentiator in terms of game selection is mainly Sidequest.
Sidequest founder says developers hesitant with Pico ports
So for Pico 4 users who have an acute lack of games, Sidequest could be the solution. However, Sidequest already works with the Pico 4, but there is no content yet, according to Sidequest founder Shane Harris.
For the current lack of games for the Pico 4, Harris has an explanation: "Until now there really hasn't been a desire from developers to support anything other than Quest, but that's changing. We have spoken to a lot of developers and the consensus seems to be that they are nervous about supporting a new platform, due to the cost of porting and ongoing maintenance."
However, since Pico now provides a native OpenXR SDK as well as an Open-XR plugin for Unity, porting new and existing VR games for Pico will be easier.
Vertigo Games and other publishers are working on Pico 4 ports
As far as game selection for the Pico 4 is concerned, there is no quick fix even with Sidequest, although Harris' post gives hope. However, Pico 4 users can expect a growing VR game catalog even without a quick Sidequest launch.
Vertigo Games, a successful publisher of VR games, recently announced ports of successful titles. After The Fall, Arizona Sunshine, Skyworld Kingdom Brawl and A Fisherman's Tale were already available at the Pico launch.
More publishers and developers will follow, including Skydance Interactive, which has already announced The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners Chapter 2: Retribution (Preview) and the successful first part.
The VR games Peaky Blinders: The King's Ransom, Ruins Magus, Green Hell VR or the Pico exclusive title Just Dance VR are also already in the works. New content will continue to be added in the following months.