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Is Oculus SideQuest free?

Is Oculus SideQuest free? Yes, absolutely!

SideQuest is an entirely free platform that provides Oculus Quest owners with access to a huge library of sideloaded VR content beyond what‘s available on the official Oculus Store. You can download and use SideQuest completely free of charge as a Quest user. It‘s also free for developers to distribute their VR creations through SideQuest with no listing fees or revenue shares.

Hey friend! My name‘s Wendell and I‘ve been an avid SideQuest user since getting my Oculus Quest back in 2019. I figured I‘d share my insights with you on everything SideQuest has to offer for Quest users like us.

Back then, the Oculus Store was still pretty limited. I was hungry to experience what the creative minds of the indie VR developer community had been cooking up. That led me to discover SideQuest, and it absolutely blew open the doors to a whole new world of amazing and innovative VR apps that Oculus hadn‘t approved yet.

Over the past three years, I‘ve sideloaded hundreds of games, utilities, and experiments using SideQuest that have taken my Oculus Quest to the next level. And the best part is that nearly all of these incredible sideloaded apps have been completely free!

Let‘s dive deeper into what exactly SideQuest is, how it works on a technical level, and why every Quest owner should be sideloading to unlock the full capabilities of their headset!

What is SideQuest?

SideQuest is essentially an alternative app store and distribution platform specifically designed for the Oculus Quest and Quest 2 headsets. It provides easy access to VR apps that haven‘t been approved for the official Oculus Store for various reasons.

The Oculus Store has a highly curated collection of polished, finished VR apps and games that have passed Oculus‘ strict approval guidelines. This provides a smooth, user-friendly experience.

However, Oculus‘ approval process can also limit more experimental, unfinished, or technologically complex VR apps from getting published. That‘s where SideQuest comes in!

SideQuest allows developers to distribute Quest apps that push the envelope, try new things or simply haven‘t completed the Oculus review process yet. As a Quest user, SideQuest gives you access to these cutting edge experiments and innovations that really showcase the future potential of VR!

To give you an idea of scale – SideQuest currently hosts over 700 available apps and games, compared to around 500 on the Oculus Store. And many of the most popular Oculus Store apps also offer exclusive early releases, betas, and demo versions through SideQuest.

So in summary, SideQuest opens up Quest‘s true capabilities by letting you easily access VR apps that aren‘t on the Oculus Store!

A brief history of SideQuest

SideQuest was founded in 2019 by Shane Harris and GamerGrip following the launch of the original Oculus Quest headset. They identified that the closed nature of the Oculus Store ecosystem would make it difficult for many promising experimental and indie VR apps to reach Quest users.

With Oculus‘ blessing, they built SideQuest as a simple PC-based sideloading tool and alternative storefront for developers to distribute Quest apps outside of Oculus‘ walled garden. This gave the VR community access to the true breadth of Quest‘s potential as a standalone VR headset.

In late 2021, SideQuest released their SideQuest VR app for Oculus Quest headsets, which allows managing and installing sideloaded apps directly on the headset without needing a PC. This made sideloading infinitely more convenient and accessible.

As of 2023, SideQuest is seeing over 500,000 monthly active users and 13,000 active developers distributing apps. Over 3 million apps have been sideloaded using the platform. While still not official, SideQuest has cemented itself as the go-to hub for Oculus Quest sideloading with Oculus‘ awareness and tolerance.

Is sideloading with SideQuest legal and safe?

Yes – sideloading apps and games using SideQuest is completely legal and does not break any rules or regulations. Oculus is aware that many Quest owners use SideQuest to expand the capabilities of their headset beyond the Oculus Store.

The SideQuest team carefully vets every app submission to ensure there is no obvious copyright infringement or malware. However, the level of security review is not as comprehensive as the in-depth Oculus Store review process.

There are inherent risks associated with installing apps outside of the official Oculus Store ecosystem. While exceedingly rare, it is possible for sideloaded apps to damage your Quest or contain malicious code not detected by SideQuest‘s vetting process.

As a general safety precaution, you should pay close attention to ratings and comments before installing unfamiliar sideloaded apps. Proceed carefully with apps that seem questionable or too good to be true. But overall, SideQuest has proven to be a trusted source for sideloading.

Millions use SideQuest regularly with few issues reported. You can feel comfortable that sideloading apps from SideQuest itself is safe and condoned by Oculus – just take sensible precautions as you would with any app store.

Does sideloading void the warranty?

Nope! Many people worry that sideloading unofficial apps could risk voiding their Quest warranty according to the terms of service.

Thankfully Oculus has directly confirmed this is not the case. Sideloading through legitimate sources like SideQuest will not void your factory warranty or any extended warranty you may have purchased.

Oculus understands that many Quest developers and power users will leverage sideloading to unlock the headset‘s full capabilities. As long as you aren‘t hacking or illegally modifying the core software, sideloading is condoned.

I‘ve personally sideloaded over 200 apps to my Quest 2 using SideQuest and had no warranty issues when I needed to replace a controller. So sideload away without worrying about warranty impacts!

How does sideloading with SideQuest work?

From a technical standpoint, sideloading apps onto your Quest with SideQuest is fairly straightforward. I‘ll quickly break down the steps at a high level:

  1. Install the SideQuest PC app or Android app
  2. Connect your Quest to PC via USB-C cable or to WiFi
  3. Accept any prompts/permissions to access Quest storage
  4. Browse apps in the SideQuest store and install APKs to your Quest
  5. Once installed, the apps appear in your Quest library ready to launch!

Some key things to understand about sideloading:

  • Apps are installed as .APK files rather than through the Oculus Store ecosystem.
  • App data is stored locally on your Quest rather than in the cloud.
  • Updates need to be manually installed as new APKs rather than auto-updating.
  • Multiplayer connectivity depends on the app but is often limited to other sideloaded users.
  • Sideloaded apps may not appear as polished or integrated due to less strict requirements.

While a bit more involved than the Oculus Store, sideloading apps via SideQuest gives you access to a whole world of VR that would otherwise be unavailable!

What kinds of apps can I get on SideQuest?

The scope of apps available only through sideloading is incredibly vast – here are some examples of innovative experiences I‘ve enjoyed thanks to SideQuest:

  • Early access beta builds and demo versions for popular VR games like Pavlov and Vader Immortal.
  • Clever indie puzzles and adventures like Deisim, Ancient Dungeon, Tea for God, Hyper Dash.
  • Useful tools and utilities like AppStarter, File Browser, and Coverage overlay.
  • Custom environments like Nature Treks and Lambda1VR Half-Life port.
  • Creative apps like VR painting Tilt Brush and music maker SoundScape.
  • Retro gaming emulators with classic console ROMs and VR injection mods.
  • Tech demos pushing new techniques like hand tracking, wireless streaming, foveated rendering.
  • Unofficial ports of PC VR favorites like Half-Life VR and VRChat.

And this is really just the tip of the iceberg for what can be built and distributed outside of the Oculus Store ecosystem. SideQuest really opens up Quest‘s full capabilities as an innovative VR platform.

The freedom SideQuest provides developers results in incredibly diverse, experimental concepts you often can‘t find on locked down app stores. It‘s an exciting portal into the true future potential of standalone VR!

Are SideQuest apps safe for kids?

This is a very important question for parents concerned about VR safety. In general, I would exercise some extra caution with sideloaded apps for younger users:

  • Try unknown apps yourself first before allowing kids access.
  • Closely monitor ratings/reviews and developer reputation. Avoid questionable apps.
  • Only allow apps from known developers and franchises when possible.
  • Remind kids never to enter personal info for sideloaded apps.
  • Disable automatic APK installations and purchases with passcode.
  • Set playing time limits for apps that seem too addictive or overstimulating.

The Oculus Store certainly offers the most kid-friendly selection of age-rated games and apps designed specifically for younger audiences. With sideloaded content, it‘s on parents to vet appropriateness for their children as there are fewer guardrails in place.

But with reasonable oversight and selective care choosing titles, many SideQuest games can be safe, educational, and developmentally beneficial. SideQuest lists hundreds of learning, puzzle, theater and creative apps suitable for kids given proper parental guidance.

Getting set up with SideQuest

Ready to unlock your Quest‘s full sideloading potential? Let‘s quickly run through everything you need to get SideQuest installed and start expanding your VR horizons:

PC Setup

If using the PC app, you‘ll need:

  • A VR ready Windows gaming PC or Mac. Even an older model will work.
  • Oculus PC app installed with your Quest linked to the account.
  • SideQuest installer downloaded from sidequestvr.com
  • A good USB-C cable to connect your Quest to the PC.
  • Allow USB data transfer when the Quest prompts you.

Mobile Setup

To sideload directly on your headset:

  • Download SideQuest VR from the Oculus Store. It‘s free!
  • Grant storage and APK install permissions when prompted.
  • Connect your Quest to WiFi for installing apps wirelessly.

That‘s it! You‘ll now be able to browse and install SideQuest apps from the PC or mobile app with ease.

I recommend starting with popular free games like Ancient Dungeon, Tea for God and Deisim to see the creative potential unlocked by sideloading. Let the adventures begin!

Sideloading tips and troubleshooting

Here are some handy pro tips I‘ve learned over the years for managing sideloaded apps and troubleshooting issues:

  • Sort the SideQuest app list by Top Rated or Downloads to find the most popular must-have apps.
  • Use the 90Hz filter if you want apps optimized for Quest 2‘s smoother refresh rate.
  • Click the Version number to see the full changelog for app updates.
  • Favor apps with active developer interaction in discussions – it shows ongoing support.
  • Join the SideQuest Discord for tips, updates and dev interactions.
  • If installs fail, carefully re-do permisisons and check your cable/wifi connection.
  • Factory reset your headset if you run into major issues to clean out any corrupted files.
  • Limit your sideloaded apps to around 20-30 at once to avoid storage issues.
  • Back up your favorite sideloaded apps APK files on your computer so you always have them.

Take it slow, and don‘t rush to install every app under the sun. Curate a selection of the innovative apps that most appeal to you. And enjoy all the amazing VR experiences that were previously hidden away outside the Oculus Store!

The exciting future of sideloading and SideQuest

While still a bit under the radar, I truly believe SideQuest represents the future of what unrestricted VR app distribution could look like. As VR headsets grow more advanced and capable, the demand for complex and experimental apps will require alternative stores like SideQuest.

We‘re already seeing SideQuest fulfill that need, unlocking innovation in social VR apps, tools, retro gaming, mixed reality streaming, hand tracking experiments, and countless other cutting edge use cases.

And initiatives like the recent App Lab program show even Oculus recognizes the need to open up publishing opportunities beyond their walled garden. As VR grows, more open ecosystems will be critical to welcoming small indie devs and supporting the vibrant community that drives the entire industry forward.

I‘m excited to see where SideQuest and the sideloading ecosystem expands in the future. The possibilities truly feel endless when developers have the freedom to experiment!

Well friend, that covers everything you could need to know get started unleashing the full sideloading potential of your Oculus Quest. I hope you found my SideQuest experiences and advice helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions!