While virtual reality technology and hardware are almost “there”, actual significant content remains hard to come by. With more powerful systems like the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, the price of equipment presents a high barrier to entry. Google’s smartphone-powered Daydream VR platform, in contrast, is more accessible but has been closed off to outsiders. That is, until now. Google has now swung the doors wide open, allowing anyone and everyone who is a developer to not only make Daydream apps but also get them up on the Daydream app store. If they meet the criteria.
The problem with too open a door is that anyone will really try to get in. While that already happens with smartphone apps, the possibility of actual physical harm is greater with VR apps. That is why Google has a bunch of guidelines that, at the very least, set down the ground rules for the technical quality of the VR experience. It doesn’t exactly talk about the quality of the content.
There is a bit of oddity to Google’s Daydream developer message. Any developer can actually push and publish a VR app and it will immediately be visible on the non-VR Google Play Store. However, if they want the app to be discoverable from the VR version of Google Play as well as the Daydream Home, they need to opt-in to Google Daydream distribution program.
Opting in means you’re agreeing to have your VR app reviewed and scrutinized by Google for any infractions of its guidelines. This early, Google should probably make it mandatory in order to prevent all hell from breaking loose. But Google has never really exercised an iron hand on Google Play Store, and it definitely won’t start now.
Opening the doors to developers to start making Daydream VR apps is definitely a big step in the right direction. It would also be beneficial if Google expanded the number of phones compatible with the Daydream platform. Currently that list is limited to at least six models, which will hopefully experience a growth spurt when new devices are announced in the coming months.