I love telling you the story of The Unity Cube, my crazy application for App Lab that is just a cube, and got amazing results, like more than 3000 installs, the selection as the 20th top-rated app on App Lab, mentions in important magazines like Road To VR and Forbes, and more. Well, today this story comes to a new sad chapter.
Some days ago, I opened Twitter, and I found this thread
I immediately went to see what happened to the page of my cube on SideQuest and I found this:
I admit I was not happy of seeing this…
Then I read all the comments of people of the community about this decision… some people agreed with it, some others wrote that at this point also all Beat Saber clones should be removed, others were contrary saying that a store should be completely open. Let me give my 2 cents on the topic.
As the creator of a cube app myself, of course, I’m not happy with this decision. Especially given all the satisfaction that The Unity Cube gave to me. But at the same time, I understand and respect it. SideQuest is a startup, and as a startup, it has a tight budget and a little team. Keeping these silly apps means server costs, and also means time spent by the review team (all the apps are reviewed one by one) by just opening and testing nonsense apps. Time that these employes could use in a better way. So it is not convenient for SideQuest to keep them.
But it is not also convenient for the users and the developers. Sidequest is a directory for finding indie VR games. The more shovelware in this directory, the more it is difficult for good titles to get found. And this is not good for both the developers and the users. Having one or two cubes is ok and funny, but if the team has taken this decision, it means that they were constantly receiving cubes, spheres, and similar submissions. This is content that doesn’t give value to the users, and as a joke, it becomes unfunny very soon. This type of content is not only similar, but identical, and so becomes boring over time. Beat Saber clones, while boring, are at least the work of some dev team that tried to do something in XR, and are anyway a bit different from each other (at least the graphics are).
Plus, SideQuest, being a startup, has difficulties in making a search AI that is super-effective in discarding non-interesting content (I would say that its search function needs an upgrade in any case), so the risk of seeing this kind of content when looking something else, is real.
When I published my cube, some developers reached out to me to say that it was fun, but that at the same time, I was anyway giving a disadvantage to other developers: if Road To VR hadn’t written that article on the cube, probably it would have given space to a VR game, and make an indie studio to have more visibility. Also, the time spent on the reviews on App Lab and SideQuest has made other teams wait for more for their games to be approved.
The Cube is love, The Cube is life
Someone says this looks like a limitation of the freedom of developers. Well, I think not, because they are just removing pointless apps that have proven not to be useful and that are all the same. If they started removing also the various clones or apps that aren’t above a certain threshold, I would have got worried, but until now I think they took a reasonable decision. I mean, when you are an administrator of something, you have to keep your environment clean, and sometimes this means making decisions that people don’t like. If you are a mod of a forum, and one of your users keeps saying always the same annoying joke, without writing anything else, would you ban it? Probably I would do it because he makes the life of all the other people worse without adding any kind of value.
Other people wonder if Facebook should do the same, but I think not. First of all, I’ve heard of no other cube apps on App Lab. Then, Facebook has the money to keep many apps on its servers. Also, the main reason is that App Lab content is unlisted. Even if there were 1 million cubes on App Lab, they wouldn’t clutter the experience for other users, because you have no way of finding them. The same doesn’t hold for SideQuest, which is a directory to make content discoverable. So low-value submissions are a problem for SideQuest, while are of no harm for App Lab. In the end, since the borderline reputation Facebook has, it would be bad for it to start banning apps... the community would see it as censorship.
Personally, I still think that SideQuest could have taken a softer decision. If I were SideQuest team, I would have enforced the ban only for new apps of this kind, because having my app removed, after I have seen it thriving, and without doing anything bad myself, is a bit disappointing. Or I would have left on the store only the apps that were most relevant: like the first cube published, the first sphere, and my cube that is the first app on App Lab of this kind. I think this kind of content could have been left there for historical reasons… having just 3-4 apps of this kind would keep the joke fun without disturbing the other developers. Also I think these silly apps are also a symbol of freedom of expression, so I would have kept the most relevant ones. This is a suggestion that I leave to the SideQuest team.
I am proud of having developed The Unity Cube: while working on it, I have been able to educate many developers on how to be approved on App Lab, and many people still thank me for that. I will keep an eye on the stats on App Lab to see how much this termination impacted The Unity Cube’s downloads and I will keep you posted. Then it opened the road to many jokes… and I think we need a good laugh in our community sometimes. Even the news of the ban of the cube has inspired many jokes and memes…
… and I want to keep this meme-y tradition! I want to have my funny revenge on SideQuest… so, people in XR, my great fellow memers, let’s all create some memes about the ban of The Unity Cube! Create them, share them on social media, and tag me (@Skarredghost) and SideQuest (@SideQuestVR) and let’s have fun all together! Here you are some that I made myself… enjoy (be sure to scroll all the gallery)!
I wait for your funny memes! And don’t forget to support The Unity Cube on App Lab, spread the word about it, and give it 5 stars! Long live to the cube! This ban won’t stop it!