Is Virtual Reality Porn Still the Next Big Thing?

by | July 24, 2018

There has been a new VR story doing the rounds in the mainstream media lately claiming that porn is, as usual, driving forward the adoption of cutting edge tech. However, when the principle VR adult industry person who is offering evidence of this is the CEO of Naughty America, then you can tell something is amiss. That studio, one of the very first to gamble on filming in VR, now appears close to bankruptcy and owes various tube site owners who promoted them at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash.

In fact, the interview with the Naughty America guy comes from 2016, and the articles that have been appearing recently are in relation to a new book about virtual reality by the author David Ewalt, and which already feels hopelessly out of date.

VR porn is on pace to be a $1 billion industry by 2020, Ewalt writes in the book, citing a report from investment bank Piper Jaffray.

“It’s not surprising that adult entertainment companies are among the first movers in the nascent VR industry,” Ewalt writes. “After adult content helped popularize new media formats like VHS, Blu-ray and streaming video, the idea that porn drives digital innovation became a widely accepted truth.

“What is surprising is how big VR porn has become … and how quickly.”

In “Defying Reality,” to be released Tuesday, Ewalt traces the story from ancient amphitheaters to Cold War military laboratories, through decades of hype and failure, to look at how businesses are already using VR to revolutionize the world, and what consumers can expect in the future.

Along the way, Ewalt offers comments from Andreas Hronopoulos, CEO and owner of La Touraine, Naughty America’s parent company, as well as Ian Paul, the company’s chief information officer.

The author also checked in with adult star and entrepreneur Ela Darling.

Ewalt notes in the book that while most adult studios worry about other sites poaching and distributing their content, the biggest problem facing producers of VR porn is that not enough partners are willing to distribute it.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-first-real-boom-in-virtual-reality-its-pornography-1531320180

The truth is that the growth of VR porn is not only stagnant,it appears to be on a slow but steady trend of decline. Several months ago there was real optimism and anticipation at the launch of the Oculus GO, the first standalone VR headset that does not require a smartphone or a PC, and which costs only $200. It was expected to be the perfect VR porn machine, but not only have sales been unspectacular, they clearly haven’t been enough to reverse the decline in interest in VR porn.

Rise and Fall of VR porn

Google search interest reached a peak of interest around Christmas 2016, two and a half years ago, when early tech adopters and those itching to get their hands on VR porn were spending over $1,000 on the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, and the high end PC needed to power either of them. The more affordable PlaystationVR had also just been released, and the Gear VR was selling like hot cakes, or at least being bundled with the latest Galaxy smartphone for free.

As somebody who promotes VR porn (as you see here) I am a little bit on the inside of things, so to speak. I can honestly say that in the period around Christmas/New Year 2015/16 I was making up to 20 or more sales of VR adult pay site subscriptions a day. Now I’m lucky if I get one sale a day. A lot of those sales were for Naughty America VR, who claim not to have the cash to pay me for most of them. A number of VR pay sites have already fallen, others – such as VR3000 – haven’t released any new videos for months. A number of these studios appear to have had their existing content bought by the Badoink studio and have been brought together under the site RealVR

It’s not all bad news. The Reddit ONSFW subreddit now has just under 1 million subscribers, although the fact it usually only has several thousand of them marked as ‘online’ at any time, sugggests only a small percentage are still VR porn enthusiasts. Virtual reality, as well as search requests for VR porn, are also continuing to grow in China. The problem? Porn is officially illegal in China, and even downloading or viewing adult material can get you a prison term there. Not many will risk getting their credit cards out and actually purchasing VR porn memberships.

Leading VR site SexLikeReal.com recently provided figures which suggest the VR porn market is still growing slowly, although it’s not clear how authoritative these figures are, as it appears to be ‘their own figures’, as well as an extrapolation from a recent release of Steam sales of VR games :

Using its own data on porn revenue and figures from a recent Steam leak, it worked out that virtual reality accounted for $100 million in Steam sales since 2016. That’s a 50/50 split between games and videos, and adding to revenue from Oculus and PlayStation you end up with around $130 million. During the same amount of time the porn industry generated around $18 million. Quite a bit smaller, but not exactly a low amount.

Alex Novak, CEO of SexLikeReal, said:

“It’s interesting to compare that figure with our previous research about the VR porn market in 2017, which saw sales of $18 million in gross revenue. Looking at sales over the same period as the data from Steam we estimate a total of $50 million with around 6,000 VR videos being released to date, with $15 million in revenue in 2018. So far, VR games and VR porn appear to be the biggest consumer markets.”

http://www.gizmodo.co.uk/2018/07/study-says-porn-and-games-are-generating-all-the-virtual-reality-money-surprising-nobody/

Certainly, SexLikeReal has been increasing its traffic, but that might just be a result of increasing market share. The leading VR porn site (and infamously, the most popular virtual reality site online of any kind), VRPorn.com, has seen its traffic fall in the last 6 months.

Worryingly, the Oculus Go was to a large extent the last realistic hope of VR porn taking off in the near term. There is no new technology on the horizon (other than the sister tech of augmented reality) that will likely breathe any new life into the medium and make it more attractive to the masses. It’s true that the Oculus Go, unlike high end headsets such as its cousin the Oculus Rift, doesn’t have 6DOF (6 degrees of freedom – the ability to move around the scene), this is irrelevant to most current VR porn which is simply 3D stereoscopic 180 recorded video.

Still, it’s only another 122 days to the Black Friday sales and the beginning of the holiday sales period…maybe we can still hope it will be Xmas 2015 all over again.

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