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.
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.
This article is the result of an interview held in Vienna, Austria at Pioneers.io in May 2016. Michael Leitner, the author of the piece, and I sat down in an opulent room at Hofburg Imperial Palace and talked, at length, about the company, BaDoinkVR, VR porn, and the larger VR space. Really happy with how this article came out, and only wish my German language skills were better. Alas, while living in Vienna, my German was feeble, and six years later, it’s only atrophied from the weak point.
Among the many topics discussed, we talked about the position of porn being the killer VR app at this point. I made the point that while this in reality is fine for the time being, with VR still being so new, so nascent, it will be a problem if porn is still the torchbearer two or three years from now.
Why is this year the year of sexology? Could you explain a bit more your words above?
Sex and technology are very much of the pop cultural conversation today, in a way they’ve never been before. And with that discussion, there has been no shortage of debate.
50 Shades of Grey is the perfect example. It rippled across age groups, genders and ethnicities. My own mother has read the books and plans to see the movie. She openly talks about it among her friends. 10 years ago…heck, even five years ago, that would not have happened.
Right now, adult is simply the killer app for virtual reality. Games will eventually carry that torch, but it’s going to take a couple of years for that to happen. At this point, porn, and porn alone, is the entertainment field that best illustrates the power of VR content over non-VR content. The difference between VR porn and non-VR porn is vivid and unmistakable. The wow factor it elicits is massive. Palmer Luckey ought to consider extending a finder’s fee on every sale of his Rift to every adult VR studio.
Published December 16, 2015, in this article Breena Kerr starts off with a history of virtual reality, explaining why it’s taking off now. The reason: the dream has been there for decades, but the tech is finally here. After touching on the excitement it presents to the entertainment industry in general, acknowledging that no one can claim to be expert in the field, Kerr segues into VR Porn’s potential role as torchbearer for this new technology. Matt Slusarenko of Kink.com is quoted, reminding us that porn plays an important part in the development of new technologies.
As Kerr digs deeper into VR porn, she quotes me, where I explain the benefits of VR porn to the consumer at large, that it provides a most intense and palpable visual experience, that is the closest one can get to living out the fantasy of being in the room with a porn star.
She also mentions our Man on the Street video, shot in San Francisco, where we introduced locals to BaDoinkVR and VR porn.
VR porn requires a headset. This applies to all virtual reality media; you need a virtual reality headset to experience virtual reality immersion. There are two types of virtual reality headsets for watching VR porn.
Smartphone-Driven: Smartphone-driven headsets rely on your smartphone’s display and processor. Your phone snaps or drops into the headset, and via a pair of duo-convex lenses in the headset, you are able to enjoy a very satisfying, immersive VR porn experience.
Proprietary Display: Virtual reality headsets dispense with the smartphone. They contain a dedicated display and processor, and connect directly to your desktop computer. As a general rule, these are more expensive than smartphone-driven headsets, largely because when you buy one, you’re also paying for the most expensive component, which is the display screen and processor.
Virtual Reality Porn is shot differently from normal porn. Different cameras are used. The lighting is different. And your favorite porn stars must perform differently. For example, in a normal porn movie, there are numerous takes. The directors shoot, cut, then shoot from a different angle. This occurs several times over the course of a non VR porn shoot. With VR porn, it’s more or less all done in one take, so the performers must rehearse the scene in advance of recording.
Virtual Reality Porn is the future of porn. Normal porn videos are great. There’s no denying that. VR porn, however, takes it to a whole other level. When done properly (BaDoinkVR.com is a good example), VR porn makes you feel like you’re in the scene. You aren’t observing. You’re part of it. In this YouTube video, you can watch young couples in San Francisco watch VR Porn for the first time. It’s funny, and gives one an accurate representation of how amazing it is.
Virtual Reality Porn is not free. Thanks to the Internet, we’ve all gotten used to free music, free porn, free movies, free everything. VR Porn, because it is so new, so scarce, and such a high-quality form of entertainment, is not available on tube sites like PornHub.com or TnAFlix.com. It is, however, affordable. Sites like BaDoinkVR.com offer dozens of exclusive virtual reality porn videos. Most are 15 to 20 minutes in length, and new videos are added to the site every week.
There are 360° VR porn videos and 180° VR porn videos. A 360° Virtual Reality porn movie is going to have multiple sex scenes occurring simultaneously. It’s sex in the round, even behind you. 180° porn offers half the viewing area. Turn your head and look left. Turn your head and look right. However, since the video is 180°, there’s nothing going on behind you. Of course, many will say that for VR porn, all you need is 180°, and there is some truth to that statement. The simple fact is that most of us watch porn lying down, and if you’re watching porn lying down, it doesn’t really matter what’s happening behind you.
Virtual Reality Porn must be experienced. This poses a real problem for marketers and advertisers, because it is impossible to describe virtual reality porn accurately without experiencing it. You can say, “It puts you in the scene.” You can say, “This is as close as you can get to fucking your favorite porn star.” But those are just words, and words are not enough to convey just how unique, different and hot VR porn is. The CEO of BaDoinkVR explains it in this article in The Hustle: http://thehustle.co/virtual-reality-is-the-new-billion-dollar-frontier-of-pornIf cheeseburgers were your favorite food, how would you explain them to someone who has never had a cheeseburger? Somebody who’s never experienced that combination of meat, cheese and bread? Somebody who’s never even tasted meat or cheese or bread?
VR Porn is more than just video. Sex toy makers are stepping up to the virtual reality porn table. Called teledildonics, these products provide a haptic response to the experience of watching virtual reality porn. If you’ve used a console gaming system in the last 10 years, you’re familiar with the concept of haptic response. It’s that shaking of the controller you feel when the car you’re driving rubs up against a wall, or when your character begins taking damage. With teledildonics, it’s a different kind of rubbing, but conceptually the same. Companies like Kiiroo create devices that enclose and attach to your genitals, and integrate with VR porn videos produced by companies like BaDoinkVR. Kiiroo’s Onyx (for men) and Pearl (for women) can be seen here (link to kiiroo).
You don’t need to be a tech geek to enjoy VR porn. There is no denying that the technology behind VR is complex and deep. If you’ve read anything about the new format, it’s easy to be intimidated. Buzzwords like parallax, interpupillary distance, magnetometer are bandied about, and that’s just scraping the surface. Fortunately, you don’t need to know what any of that means to start watching VR porn movies. Here’s a video that shows you how simple the process is.
It’s only the beginning. The future is unwritten, and virtual reality is an entirely new entertainment platform. In the months and years ahead enormous advances will be made. You’ll be able to don a headset and walk across a virtual room. Displays will go from 4k to 16k, where 16k matches the resolution of human site. You’ll see headsets replaced by glasses, and then replaced again by contact lenses. As for where VR porn will go, the same goes. The frontier is vast and evocative, filled with possibility, driven by creativity and limited only by our capacity to dream and imagine.
Journalist DJ Pangburn covered one of our porn shoots recently, and this article was Published October 22, 2015 in Vice Motherboard. He begins the article with a humorous quote from The Big Lebowski, where character Jackie–accurately, it turns out–predicts porn’s virtual reality future. It’s an incredibly rich and humorous article.
He describes the atmosphere in the palatial Hollywood Hills estate, introduces readers to Nick Melillo and myself, touches on the elaborate camera technology that’s part and parcel for a VR porn scene, and acknowledges my habitual ‘chain-vaping.’
Pangburn acknowledges Melillo’s storied past, as the man behind the look and shooting style that made Brazzers a household name.
He takes the reader on a great, in-depth tour of the VR porn production experience, and a get a few great quotes in there, too.
This was one of the biggest thrills of recent memory. Picture it: I’m flying back from a short holiday in Venice, reading this week’s Economist on my iPad. I stumble upon an article about virtual reality, and half the way down, where they acknowledge VR porn, there we are: BaDoinkVR. I instinctively threw my hands in the air, and had to swallow a shout of joy!