The adult film industry has always been one of the significant driving forces behind major technological advancements. Back when the internet was just becoming a thing, it was the presence of adult content that drove masses of new users to this new technology. The same trend continues today as VR becomes more and more widespread. Here’s how virtual reality is taking the adult film industry to a whole new level and where it might end up.
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The Impact of Adult Film
Adult films, or porn, have had a massive impact on modern societies in the past 50 years or so. However, it wasn’t until adult content became readily available that the industry truly started to boom. First came the VHS, then the internet, and the rest is more or less history. The consumption of adult content is constantly on the rise, thus making it a very lucrative industry.
The business of pleasure has always strived to replicate real human contact through various means. The idea is to feed all the senses, with the ultimate goal of giving the user a very real sexual experience. Of course, we’re not there just yet, but the adult industry is slowly shifting its resources toward making this a reality.
And there are plenty of resources to go around. The exact value of the porn industry is difficult to pinpoint, but it is estimated to be anywhere between $8 billion and $80 billion. Even the more conservative estimates place the worth of the adult content industry at around $20 billion, with significant annual revenue. To put things into perspective, the porn industry is bringing in more profit per year than all cable networks combined.
All things considered, money is not an issue for most of the major players in this business. It just so happens that the most profitable companies are the ones looking to up the ante and bring their users one step closer to “the real thing”. Virtual reality is a massive part of that effort.
How Does Virtual Reality Fit with Porn?
Virtual reality is not a new concept. The idea of immersing yourself in virtual worlds is as old as science fiction. However, the recent advancements in mobile devices, displays, and mobile processors have made it possible to push VR closer to science than fiction. VR systems such as anything from Oculus or HTC, Sony and others are not only blurring the line between reality and virtual reality, but they are reaching a price point where just about anyone will soon be able to get one of these headsets.
That being said, the porn industry was moving in this direction long before Oculus came out with their gadgets. There was no full VR porn 10 years ago, but there was POV porn. In a way, the porn industry was trying to replicate the VR experience before VR was a thing. And it worked fairly well.
POV porn was enough to give consumers a more personal experience, albeit with limited immersion. Adult film talents and filming crews were already experienced in shooting this type of content, which has made the transition into VR territory that much less difficult.
A New Experience
The allure of VR porn was obvious from the start. So much so that VR porn is still one of the largest driving factors behind the constantly rising VR headset sales. In 2018, VR porn generated over $50 million in sales. A modest figure from the 2021 standpoint, but a significant one considering where VR tech was at the time.
The average consumer quickly realized that video had nothing on the VR experience. It was new, it was different, and it was immersive. As prices of VR tech start to drop, there will be a larger shift towards filming VR content compared to the video.
That being said, the real allure of VR porn isn’t in the users’ ability to see through the eyes of an actor, but to feel what they feel. Some of the latest VR technologies have been focusing on providing immersion through senses other than sight. VR gloves could soon give you tactile feedback, while there are teams working on complete VR suits. The immersive nature of VR is only starting to show, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
It’s no secret that the porn industry has been stagnating for a while. The very same tech that has made VR possible, has also made it more difficult to profit from shooting porn. With just about everyone walking around with a 4k capable camera in their pocket, amateur porn skyrocketed in popularity. And while studio porn still brings in a decent amount of money, the effects of the amateur niche are felt throughout the industry.
Things have reached a point where an amateur couple could produce a video that is 80% as good as a major studio release — at a fraction of production cost.
What’s one genre of porn where amateur producers can’t compete in? VR. More and more large porn production companies are looking to shift away from standard content and into VR. The prohibitive nature of technology necessary to film this type of content, combined with the never-before-seen levels of immersion, represent the perfect opportunity.
Soon enough, when VR technology becomes more affordable, there will be far more professionally produced VR content than standard video content. This expected shift in priorities could very well push VR technology to a whole new level, potentially bringing forth a new age of virtual reality.
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While the statistics surrounding VR porn look promising, they are hiding the fact that this type of content requires a massive logistical upgrade as well. VR content is resource intensive with massive file sizes. Streaming such content for the masses is a challenge that is currently being worked on by teams all over the world. The VR is here, but the full VR experience might be just around the corner. Full immersion will have to wait a little longer.