SideQuest Announces a Rebranding and a Contest: You Could Win an Oculus Quest!

SideQuest, the popular software which allows you to sideload apps to your Oculus Quest VR headset, has just posted an announcement to their subReddit:

In the next few days we have some wonderful changes coming, we have a new logo and were working on a whole new brand to boot. We’ve got our biggest update ever coming tomorrow with a whole host of new features and fixes. We will also be giving away another Quest (64GB model) to a lucky user! Just add a reaction to the message in the #announcements channel on our Discord to be in with a chance of winning! We will announce the winner tomorrow!

We are going to OC6! If anyone is headed to San Jose around the 25th-26th of this month come and say hello! We’ll have free stickers!

I also just want to say thanks again to this wonderful community, thanks to the developers, the modders, the mappers, the @Awesome Helper team and all the users here. This has been an amazing journey and its only just beginning! I will add more info here tomorrow on the details of the new SideQuest release.

So head on over to the SideQuest Discord, find the message in the #announcements channel, and add a reaction emoji. That’s all you have to do to be eligible to win! Good luck!

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AltspaceVR to Launch on the Oculus Quest on Sept. 12th

It looks as though AltspaceVR will be the next social VR platform available to Oculus Quest users, joining Bigscreen, Dance Central, Rec Room, and VRChat. (You can already install AltspaceVR using SideQuest, but this is the official announcement that the AltspaceVR app will be available via the Oculus Store for the Quest.)

Given that AltspaceVR already runs on a variety of platforms (including an Android mobile app), this news hardly comes as a surprise. AltspaceVR’s cartoony, low-poly avatars in particular make it easy to port the platform to a wide variety of existing hardware, including the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Windows Mixed Reality headsets, and cellphone-based VR like the Samsung Gear VR and the Google Daydream. It also runs on the Oculus Go, so running on the Quest should not be a problem.

Editorial: Facebook and Oculus Have Too Much Power Over Virtual Reality and the Metaverse

Facebook already has amply demonstrated how little they value the privacy and data rights of its users, in a succession of scandals uncovered by the New York Times and many other news media over the past couple of years (image from Forbes).

Facebook has the resources to capably crush competitors. Strip-mining the data of the estimated 2.7 billion people worldwide who use Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, or Messenger each month has been extremely lucrative for the company. (The five billion dollar fine the U.S. FTC recently levied against Facebook for their privacy lapses was a mere slap on the wrist, given the income the company generates each year from advertising. Mark Zuckerberg probably found the money from his couch cushions.)

I have already written about industry gossip that Facebook is plowing resources into creating a metaverse platform for all its Oculus VR hardware users. I willing to bet, dollars to doughnuts, that the Facebook metaverse is going to look a lot like Oculus Home, which is the where you are deposited when you first put on your headset. You can now visit other people’s homes, and recent updates include the ability for users to create their own spaces by uploading their own 3D models.

Some Examples of Oculus Home Interiors

Even better, Facebook gives you free furniture every week you sign into Oculus Home at least once, which you can use to decorate your space. It’s not hard to see how this can compete with social VR platforms like Sansar and virtual worlds like Second Life. And Facebook has deep pockets to fund advertising campaigns that companies like Linden Lab cannot ever hope to match.

And, of course, there is the complete line of Oculus VR hardware, including the popular new wireless Oculus Quest headset, which Mark Zuckerberg recently reported is selling as fast as Facebook can make them.

Which leads to the point of this editorial: in this evolving metaverse of social VR and virtual worlds, is too much power concentrated in the hands of a single, monolithic, profit-obsessed company? I would argue that Facebook is aiming for complete and utter domination of the VR universe, just as they already have in the social networking space, by creating a walled ecosystem with the Oculus Home and the Oculus Store that will have a negative impact on other companies trying to create and market VR apps and experiences. The field is already tilted too much in Facebook’s favour, and the situation could get worse.

Now, you can argue that Facebook has competition from other VR headsets such as the HTC Vive line of products and the Valve Index. And the Steam software distribution platform is an alternative to the Oculus Store. I understand that my purchased programs from the Oculus Store can still be played on an HTC Vive or Valve Index with the Revive software, which is somewhat reassuring to me (although I suppose there is nothing really stopping Facebook if they choose to block that avenue at some point in the future).

More concerning to me is that, at some point, I may be forced to get an account on the Facebook social network to use apps on my Oculus VR hardware. In fact, this has already happened with the events app Oculus Venues, which I recently discovered requires you to have an account on the Facebook social network to access.

Sorry, but after all the Facebook privacy scandals of the past couple of years, that’s a big, fat “Nope!” from me. I asked Facebook to delete its 13 years of user data on me, and I quit the social network in protest as my New Year’s resolution last December, and I am never coming back. And I am quite sure that many of Facebook’s original users feel exactly the same way, scaling back on their use of the platform or, like me, opting out completely. I regret I ever started using Facebook thirteen years ago, and that experience will inform my use (and avoidance) of other social networks in the future.

Yes, I do know that I have to have an Oculus account to be able to use my Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest VR headsets, and that Facebook is collecting data on that. I also know that the Facebook social network probably has a “shadow account” on me based on things such as images uploaded to the social network and tagged with my name by friends and family, etc., but I am going to assume that Facebook has indeed done what I have asked and removed my data from their social network. Frankly, there is no way for me to actually verify this, as consumers in Canada and the U.S. have zero rights over the data companies like Facebook collects about them, as was vividly brought to life by Dr. David Carroll, whose dogged search for answers to how his personal data was misused in the Cambridge Analytica scandal played a focal role in the Netflix documentary The Great Hack (which I highly recommend you watch).

We’ve already seen how social networks such as Facebook have contributed negatively to society by contributing to the polarization and radicalization of people’s political opinions, and giving a platform to groups such as white supremacists and anti-vaxers. The Great Hack details how Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data without user knowledge or consent to swing the most recent U.S. election in Donald Trump’s favour, and look at the fucking mess the world is in now just because of that one single, pivotal event.

We can’t trust that Facebook is going to act in any interests other than its own profit. Facebook has way too much power, and governments around the world need to act in the best interests of their citizens in demanding that the company be regulated, even broken up if necessary.

UPDATED: Find Three Keys and You Could Win an Oculus Quest in The Expanse/SideQuest’s Contest!

Image from the movie Ready Player One

The company behind the social VR platform The Expanse and the phenomenally popular SideQuest have announced a contest on their Discord:

Are you interested in the Oculus Quest Giveaway? The rules are simple – there are three keys. The only clue you get is that the first key is on this Discord server somewhere. The other two keys (easier to find) are in The Expanse. Luckily for you there are only two spaces in the expanse right now so it should be easy enough. When you get all the keys combine them into a message on here to find out if you have won. Remember only the first person to get it wins even if this message is repeated. Thanks and happy hunting!

Here’s a link to The Expanse/SideQuest Discord server. Have fun!

UPDATE 5:11 p.m.: The hunt for the keys has now ended. I’ve been informed that a user named ThrillClinton was the winner of the Oculus Quest.