Many, many months ago a gentleman approached me via Email, curious as to whether BaDoinkVR was interested in sponsoring an event in Europe. We talked about VR porn, our progress, my hopes. When I alluded to our formidable traffic volume, and subscriber base, the guy immediately changed the subject, away from sponsorship, and into data commercialization. The sale of data, more
Data commercialization is not something my company ever considered. It was never on our radar. Perhaps, a blind spot. More likely, the fact that we haven’t, historically, had user data that would be of any commercial value played a key role.
This review of Google Daydream View, penned by Jamison Cush, is thorough and comprehensive. There are no mentions of VR porn or BaDoinkVR, but that can be forgiven. When I read an article, and note that kind of omission, I’m always inclined to blame the editor.
He praises the design and feel of the device, as well as the intuitive remote. Unfortunately, there are some damning drawbacks to the new Daydream Viewer, specifically an unimpressive 110° field of view and insufferable amount of light leak. Light leak, in all HMDs, in this nascent stage of VR development, is unavoidable, but Cush points out that in the case of Daydream Viewer, the leakage is flood-like.
I take all of his comments to heart. What worries me about this write-up is that it underscores a persistent Google deficiency: they simply fall short when it comes to developing physical devices.
Of course, even if Daydream Viewer never improves adequately enough in subsequent iterations, all is not lost. So many manufacturers are on board with the Daydream platform, and I reckon many of those will develop their own headset, and maybe most of those will be vastly better than Google’s.
Still, it does not make for the best first impression, especially if you’ve been called the Gear VR Killer for nearly a year.
The adult VR market is very, very green, largely because the entire VR space is even greener. Honestly, if you’re someone with a $.99 pair of Google Cardboard, you are an Early Adopter. Early majority? That on-ramp is miles down the road.
Is it ripe to be pursued vigorously by affiliates and content producers or are some other things needed before real growth will be possible?
When compared with traditional forms of entertainment, how many users are currently already using VR gear to watch adult entertainment?
It’s impossible to provide accurate data. Anyone who says they have that data is being somewhat disingenuous. The market at this point is very, very small because the number of consumers in possession of a VR headset is infinitesimal, compared to smartphones, desktops and tablet computers. Broadly, it’s important to remember that, for all the fanfare, hype and truly inspiring VR programming available, VR as a tech is still incredibly embryonic. All of the excitement it garners is worthwhile and valid and appropriate, but what we’re most excited about, what’s worthy of all that excitement is the signals splintering off the tech. It’s not about what’s here now.
How will this change in the near future? When do you expect that VR will reach user numbers close to what we see today with computers, TV or smartphones?
The release of PlayStation VR is worth celebrating. Google Daydream, even more so. The levee breaks once eye-tracking comes to town. That makes foveated rendering possible. And once video resolution can be managed in a manner that does not require everything in your field of view to be displayed at max resolution, the demands on processing power will drop enormously, and many more consumers will be in the position to afford higher-end devices. When will VR gear be as commonplace as computers, TVs or smartphones? I think we’re a decades out, honestly. Consider that we all know one or two people who live without TV, live without a smartphone. They’re curiosities. They’re noteworthy. We’re still at a point where it’s noteworthy if someone owns a VR device.
Let’s talk a bit about the hardware. The most widely used way right now for VR could be solutions similar to Google Cardboard, since these are the easiest, and by far cheapest solutions. Is the quality of such devices good enough for VR porn?
At BaDoinkVR, we were the first to give away Google Cardboard with every subscription to our VR porn site, but these are, to put it colloquially, gateway drugs. They don’t deserve a place on the shelf alongside your other gadgets. They’re here to give you a taste, and encourage you to purchase something better—like Gear VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive. That’s what makes the release of Google Daydream so exciting. Most people are not going to jump from cardboard to Oculus Rift or HTC Vive. They’ll jump to a mid-range device. Up until recently, that meant Gear VR, and Gear VR, good as it is, works with only a few Samsung phones. With Google Daydream, we see many, many more manufacturers agreeing to release phones supporting the platform. That gives the entire market a nice kick.
What art the minimum requirements a VR headset and the hardware should have to create an enjoyable experience for the user?
Any smartphone released in the last two or three years, with Google Cardboard, or cardboard equivalent, is sufficient to enjoy VR porn. However, the average consumer is not going to watch VR porn in lieu of non-VR porn until, at minimum, they’ve acquired a device that is mid-range or higher.
Other solutions from Oculus, Sony or HTC are far more pricy. Does the user see the difference? And will he be willing to pay the higher price to watch adult entertainment on these devices?
The experience on HTC Vive and Oculus Rift is, hands-down, superior to the experience on Cardboard, or Gear VR, or any smartphone-driven solution. As far as willingness to pay a higher price, I believe that anyone considering the purchase of one of these high-end devices, when listing the pros and cons of purchasing, he or she definitely puts ‘VR porn’ in the plus column.
I doubt that those companies actively support porn on their devices, if they not even try to obstruct it all together. How easy or complicated is it to enjoy VR porn on Rift, Sony VR or the Vive?
Watching VR porn on the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift is as easy as watching VR porn on a smartphone, if not easier. In fact, BaDoinkVR even offers its own desktop player to subscribers. Watching VR Porn on PlayStation VR is also possible with BaDoinkVR, though, at this point, the process is a bit more convoluted.
Will the consumers readily pay for VR content?
They will and do. BaDoinkVR is already profitable, and consumers, at large, see VR content as something separate from ‘normal’ porn. At this point, scarcity certainly has a hand in that. But it’s also an acknowledgement of the quality. Video sharing sites, which are the reason that consumers haven’t expected to pay for porn for nearly a decade now, are lowest-common-denominator channels of distribution. They’re McDonalds and Taco Bell. VR porn, by comparison, is sitting down at the best steakhouse in town.
How will the market for VR porn develop within the next year?
It will continue to grow, the result of more devices hitting the marketplace, the result of more people experiencing virtual reality for the first time. Once you’ve tried it, VR porn leaves a lasting impression. The challenge for everyone in the VR space is convincing people to put those goggles on for the first time. Once he or she does, there’s no going back. They never look at porn the same way again.
This article by Lewis Painter gives readers a primer on virtual reality. It includes a section on smartphone-driven VR, desktop-driven VR, VR games, VR apps, and, of course, VR porn, where BaDoinkVR is mentioned alongside PornHub, with whom we collaborated in March 2016.
The more articles like this written and posted, the better off everyone in the VR space is.
A video interview, courtesy of CloudMoves.tv. Emma asked all the right questions, and I tried my best to evince spirit and enthusiasm all the way through. I said an awful lot about VR porn and BaDoinkVR, and said it all awfully fast.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got into the industry?
I hail from the United States, and got my start in this industry in 1998. I was living in Los Angeles at the time, and was initially hired by one of the first adult (i.e. porn)Internet companies in the world to write erotic copy for their web properties. This was early on, so content was primarily photographic, and corresponding copy was a necessity. I eventually took the position of Creative Director, and the company itself was acquired by a publicly traded company in the US focused on TV and satellite distribution of adult content.
Can you tell us something about Badoink?
BaDoink.com (we call it BaDoink VIP now) was launched more than 10 years ago as a subscription-based website. Its focus was more on the delivery of content than the production of content. The site had thousands of videos, of course, but all of our R&D was put into tech. We created the BaDoink Ultra App, a companion software for desktop that allowed subscribers to access all the content of the site via the app, avoiding the web entirely. And it had a number of features which were pretty cutting-edge at the time. For example, a DVD burner for creating compilations, a media encoder for converting files to different formats, a download manager, and even a DLNA media server, allowing one to stream any video to any network-aware device in the home. The site was successful, but its greatest success came later, when the smartphone market opened up. BaDoink was among the first sites in adult to be optimized for smartphone, and we optimized it well. The results were mammoth growth for the brand and the company.
Can you tell us something about Badoink VR?
BaDoinkVR is a subscription-based website offering exclusive virtual reality content. We produce all the content, as well as the player software needed to watch virtual reality content on smartphone or desktop. The site launched in July 2015, and has been growing quite impressively ever since. We were among the first virtual reality porn sites to go live, and the first to offer free Google Cardboard with every subscription. At minimum, we add 1 new video every week—often more.
Are you satisfied with the state of the Sex-Tech industry as of 2016?
Well, to me, Sex-Tech IS the industry. Sex-Tech, it’s a more modern, more accurate name for the “Porn Industry.” If your trade is adult entertainment, technology is a huge part of your business (by that I mean software and web development, traffic optimization, design and UX). Any successful company, any new company making a go of it must see tech as key to their survival and longevity. Gone are the days when studios could just be studios—produce great content and tacitly rely upon third parties for distribution. And I would argue that, in the case of all successful companies in the space, the ‘tech’ comes before the ‘sex’ by a great margin. That was an awfully long preface to addressing your question. I am satisfied with the state of the industry. There are a number of reasons to be upbeat. The tech itself, be it virtual reality or teledildonics, is exciting. I can’t speak with much authority on the latter, but where virtual reality is concerned, Sex-Tech is leading much of the innovation. Sex-Tech is the only industry with a VR business model. Another reason to be optimistic: the media has really embraced Sex-Tech in a way that it never has in the past. It’s covered by mainstream presses in an unprecedented manner. This subject, previously taboo, is now part of the pop-cultural conversation. In addition, there’s the changes we’re seeing on the popular free porn sites. Those sites that forced the industry to rapidly grow up, or, taking a more pejorative tack, brought the industry to its knees, are doing a better job of working with studios than ever before. So, again, plenty of reason, to be optimistic.
In your opinion, what kind of challenges does Sex-Tech face, inside and outside the industry?
The industry itself is made up of literally thousands of small companies around the world. Add to that the fact that so many of these companies are scratching and clawing to grow, to survive, it makes it difficult to build consensus, to bring everyone under one umbrella—for example, for the purpose of lobbying, and affecting legislative change. As well, as refreshing as it is that the mainstream media is fascinated by us, and talking about us, VCs and Silicon Valley tech companies continue being very hands off, pretending we don’t exist.
Could you briefly summarize the current state of porn in VR?
Virtual reality porn, at its best, illustrates the potential and promise of virtual reality better than any other medium. If you compare a good virtual reality porn video to any 2D porn video, the difference is so stark, so immediate, so undeniable, so visceral you can’t help but surrender to the possibility that this new tech is the next big mass communication medium. “VR is interesting, but everything seems like a demo.” One hears that sentiment a lot, and it’s not off the mark. Most VR programs hitting the market today are simply demos. With porn, that is not the case. VR porn videos are complete, entertainment products—with beginnings, middles, and ends. They don’t exist to demonstrate how interesting the tech is, they exist to entertain a mass audience through use of the tech.
Most of the VR movies you are offering are 180° movies. By when do you think you will have a higher amount of 360 ° movies?
That’s difficult to say for a couple of reasons. We are shooting 180° 3D stereoscopic videos because the consumer is not requesting 360° versions. Our member base is very vocal. We know this because we maintain a feedback forum for members behind the paywall. The 360° 3D stereoscopic videos we shoot are great for trade shows; they convey the WOW factor, but the fact is, from a practical standpoint, most users are lying prostrate when watching our videos, so seeing what’s going on behind them is not so interesting. Further, 360° 3D stereoscopic videos are more expensive to produce, and because of limitations in camera and stitching technology, the quality is never as good as you want it to be, never as good as what’s possible at 180°.
We can’t use a camera like the Nokio Ozo—as one example—because the frame-rate on a camera like that is only 30fps. That’s fine if you’re shooting landscapes, but if the subject matter is a few inches away from you, and indulging in speedy gyrations, it’s insufficient, and bouts of VR sickness would be pervasive.
My interview with Trusted Reviews bears more fruit. My opinion: Gear VR is the best headset right now for the everyman. This, we all hope, rapidly changes, and becomes any of a number of headsets developed by non-Samsung manufacturers in support of the Google Daydream platform.
But I do love my Gear VR. So practical. On my desk at home, I have a Gear VR and an Oculus Rift, and even with the latter in striking distance, I frequently reach for the Gear VR first. It’s just easy. Now, ‘easy’, I admit, may be the result of my being a Mac guy at this point, and the Oculus is connected to a Windows machine. I’m not comfortable on Windows anymore, having made the switch in 2010, and Windows 10 feels so foreign when you’re expecting Windows XP.