‘Sexual Futurist’ M.Christian takes a look at some of the issues holding back the adult VR industry.
Because I’m… what’s the expression? Oh, yeah, old, I remember back when virtual reality existed only in futuristic fantasies along with jetpacks, flying cars, or food pills in places like Arthur Radebaugh’s Closer Than We Think comic strip.
Nary a soaring Buick, a distinct lack of businessman rocketing off to work, and fortunately no encapsulated five-course meals, though VR most definitely has arrived!
And with COVID-19 trapping us indoors, smartphones going from indulgence to necessity, and the rise of mid-range rigs, virtual reality could rock the adult entertainment business like nothing before or since.
UK-based Juniper Research certainly thinks so, postulating in their “Pornography In A Pandemic: Monetising Digital Adult Content” study that by 2026 VR will be valued at a whopping 19 billion dollars and comprising 26% of everything the industry creates—and feel free to whistle at that because I absolutely did.
Though you may want to rein in your enthusiasm a bit, as despite Juniper Research’s optimism, there’s as good a chance VR will do a lot less rocking or, dare I say it, none at all.
Which got my little gray cells a-twitching: what factors could prevent VR from taking something like that 26%-sized piece of the adult entertainment pie?
Cost is the most obvious, both for the producer and, more importantly, for the consumer.
My logic goes like this: smartphone support has unquestionably helped VR gain its current popularity—though it might be reducing it, as well.
You see, Virtual Reality is all about its immersiveness. How, when it’s good, you forget you’ve got a pair of televisions strapped to your face. But when it’s not-so-good, as in the case with most smartphones, it’s frequently as non-immersive as you can get.
Alas, the most obvious solution doesn’t make the situation any better, as dropping smartphone support in favor of far-superior experiences will lock out those unable or unwilling to buy a high-end rig.
Where we have a few rays of sunshine on our otherwise stormy future of VR, taking the form of quality-yet-affordable rigs like the Oculus Quest 2 and Samsung Gear.
However, there’s still the production side to contend with. Though here, the issue is finding the elusive balance between getting as much content out the door as possible versus customers dissatisfied with your cheapness.
Sure, dual cameras are the bee’s knees for stereoscopic 360 realism, but they ain’t cheap, and neither is the time/money spent editing what was shot with them.
So far, it’s getting pretty gosh-darned tough to envision a future where adult VR has joined the ranks of smell-o-vision and 3D glasses (shudder) as nothing but a failed technological novelty.
Not to rub salt on VR’s wounds, there’s an even bigger real elephant in this virtual room—and why I think the lack of it is holding adult VR back.
But if implemented, it might, fingers-crossed, boost it far beyond that paltry 19 billion dollars.
Bad news first, except for previewing content, it’ll mean ditching smartphone support. Next, content producers will have to seriously up their game as filming two or, on occasion, several people making whoopie won’t cut it anymore.
Remember when I said virtual reality is at its best when it’s thoroughly immersive? Well, in addition to seeing everything stereoscopically and adjusting your view accordingly when you turn, tilt, or do whatever with your head, don’t forget that other critically important aspect of enjoyable VR.
I’m speaking of interactivity.
Before you run screaming for the hills, hear me out. As I’ve hopefully explained, excluding the growing number of mid-range/mid-cost rigs, adult virtual reality looks as if it’ll remain trapped behind a technologically and financially prohibitive, gimmick-over-quality content wall.
And embracing interactive VR could save it. If you’re skeptical, consider a few places where developers have already begun exploring its potential.
Wild Life is a personal favorite: an in-development, VR-enabled, open-world, sci-fi, dating-sim erotic game that supports many of Lovense’s smart sextech toys and, when fully released, may hit all those crucial immersive, interactive magic buttons.
So could it, or more than likely its technological descendant, grant VR Juniper Research’s 19 billion dollar, 26% of all content-produced sweet spot?
Perhaps. The odds increase if the adult virtual reality industry tries thinking outside of the box they’ve put themselves in.
Besides, taking a page from virtual reality games—of the non-sexual variety that is—shouldn’t be especially challenging. Made all the easier by the huge number of mind-blowingly talented VR artists that are already out there.
Imagine what they’d do with a halfway respectable budget and an equally talented artistic team to work with. Like hiring the former to build an interactive VR engine which the latter would use to develop game after game, each with its own unique visual style or game mechanics to keep up with their customer’s sexual interests, no matter what they may be.
Who knows, even if producing full-blown, AAA-feeling sex games proves to be too much for the adult entertainment industry to handle, by expanding their support for sextech toys such as those from Lovense, they still might give their customers plenty of opportunities to immersively indulge in their fantasies. For a price, of course.
In fact, I’m amazed it’s taking the industry so long to wake up and smell the interactive java–and annoyed that when they do it’s too-often poorly implemented.
While we have to drive on (sigh) roads, walk to and from work (sigh), and chew our meals (sigh), at least with virtual reality, we can visit any and every erotic wonderland imaginable.
But only if the adult VR industry is ready, willing, and committed to experimenting with interactive sex games—or technologies that today might seem like merely more futuristic fantasizing but, with a little hard work, could turn out to be The Next Big Thing.
Or, as the computer researcher Alan Kay famously put it, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
Author M.Christian’s homepage : M.Christian.com