The unedited transcript is posted here in VRBlunt.com. They asked about Todd Glider’s background, and career in the porn industry, as well as the history of the BaDoink brand, as well as the history of new product BaDoinkVR.
Kiiroo’s Onyx, for those who don’t know, provides a haptic component to the VR porn experience. This is awfully important since the key to virtual reality is immersion, or presence, or telepresence, and one can’t say they’ve achieved any of these three things when only two of one’s five senses are experiencing a virtual reality.
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.
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.
Alright. Well, that’s what I said anyway. This is a solid article, written byTomislav Bezmalinovic, and it is gratifying to get a headline. if only I understood German, as Google Translate certainly does it a disservice.
There is much talk in it about innovations like Google Daydream, an anecdote from me about my first experience with Google Cardboard, how that inspired the development of BaDoinkVR. Bezmalinovic reveals a bit of the process of producing VR content, the associated challenges for producers, shooters and performers.
Bezmalinovic also writes about our Virtual Sexology product, and its goal to make men and women, better, more attentive lovers.
1.) Please tell us a bit more about Badoink VR. Since when does the VR department exist? What were the first VR headsets you supported? What do you support now?
BaDoinkVR was launched in July 2015. We decided to throw our collective hats in the ring towards the end of 2014, when we first got our hands on Google Cardboard. Once we dropped in a smartphone, and looked through those duo-convex lenses, and saw 3D stereoscopic video for the first time, we were blown away. We thought, “This might be the next big thing.” So that was the moment. Shortly thereafter, the R&D kicked off. On the content side, we began learning how to shoot. On the development side, we began developing the VR players needed to watch virtual reality content on any device. At launch, BaDoinkVR.com, by virtue of our native mobile player and desktop player, was able to support all available devices, so that included Gear VR and all smartphone-driven headsets, Oculus Rift and, when it launched, HTC Vive. We’ll be ready to support PlayStation VR and the Google Daydream platform when the time comes as well.
As a company, what made you decide that Virtual Reality would be the next step for Adult Entertainment? When was this decision to incorporate VR made? Was it something that came about when VR headsets first started becoming public, with the oculus rift and the HTC vive, or was it before that?
We’re a technology company first, so whenever new tech gear hits the market, we buy it. Parenthetically, if you need a pair of Google Glass we’ve a half-dozen collecting dust somewhere. So, we naturally ordered a couple of pairs of Google Cardboard. When we dropped a smartphone inside, and peered through those duo-convex lenses, we were amazed. This was 2014, and what we saw was by no means perfect—heck, 2 years later, with all the hype, VR is still, broadly, very much in a 1.0 phase no matter the device—but the signal was there. So we thought, this could be the biggest revolution in mass-communication in a quarter-century. Not this year. Not next year. Not even this decade. But it could very well be What’s Next. So we resolved to start working toward launching a Virtual Reality porn site. That was the moment. It was all because of the Cardboard. We spent the first half of 2015 on R&D, learning how to produce the content, developing the necessary player software in order that all users—whether on Smartphone or desktop—would be supported, and we launched in July, 2015.
Congratulations on winning the 2016 XBIZ Award for the best adult virtual reality site, especially since it’s the first time this has been a category. Why do you think your site beat out the competition?
BaDoinkVR is the brand of record, and has been for more than a year. Where the mainstream media is concerned, we do a great job representing the industry. We’ve been covered by everyone from Rolling Stone to Forbes. So that’s key. From my perspective, we shoot the most immersive VR content. There’s also the technology aspect. In addition to producing the content, we created the player software needed for viewing VR content: a native app in iTunes App Store and Google Play, a browser-based app for streaming on Android and iOS, and a desktop app compatible with HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
Released today, Engadget on the bandwagon. Porn’s role is crucial to the successful rollout and mass-consumer uptake of virtual reality. Fond of Opace Rob’s quote. Hand-holding, when it comes to quantum leaps forward, is a necessity. The Henry Ford quote is mighty appropriate. As far as the speed at which the tech will evolve, in spite of my hedging in public spaces, I agree that it will move faster than anyone expects. Foveated rendering is coming. This will make VR uptake increase dramatically, and will positively impact the market for VR porn. It will also, simultaneously, serve as death knell for porn as torchbearer. Increased market size begets greater gaming investment in VR game development. And when that happens, gaming will take up the torch.
Typically, when I’m offered the opportunity to take part in a panel discussion, or give a speech, I’m eager to point out why porn is the torchbearer for virtual reality. These are those reasons.
1. Barrier to Entry: Barrier to to entry for adult entertainment in the VR space is comparatively low—even though the cost of producing a VR porn video is indeed double that of a non-VR porn video. Tech analysts bemoan the fact that VR companies are asking an awful lot of the consumer: pay an exorbitant amount for a nascent technology, where content for said technology is anemic, and amounts to little more than novel demos. In porn, we are not offering demos; we are offering complete scenes with a complete narrative structure—simple though it is—which includes a beginning, middle and end.
In a general sense, and speaking specifically to the US audience, where sex ed is non-existent, the realization was always there. Where it is taught in the schools, it’s not taught with much rigor. And at home, it’s one of the most uncomfortable subjects for parents to cover with their kids. Simultaneously, you realize—and there’s no shortage of punditry on the subject—that too many adults are getting their sexual ‘education’ by watching porn. That’s a problem, of course. Pornography is not educational, and pornographers are not educators. It is entertainment, and we are entertainers. That said, the idea of using VR to help adults improve their sex lives came to me well over a year ago. I was attending a VR/AR MeetUp here in Barcelona. Among the startups in attendance was a company offering an exposure therapy program for sufferers of acrophobia. You donned a pair of VR goggles and were instantly transported to a freight elevator, outside a skyscraper a mile high. The experience was convincingly real. So, that got me thinking about what we could do. There are no shortage of sexual hang-ups out there. We thought, with the right guidance—we hired a proper sex therapist to help with the script and direction—we could produce a program to help people become better, more attentive lovers.