trends

2016 Outlook: Virtual Reality Forecast

Alex Henderson

Technology has evolved throughout history, but in the digital age, it has been evolving at an especially rapid pace.

For today’s adult entrepreneur, adapting to technological changes is both a necessity and a never-ending battle — and companies that don’t change with the times technologically can easily lose customers.

In theory, VR porn is a spectacular new format for the industry, promising to revitalize business by making the content much more detailed, realistic and compelling. —Brian Shuster, Utherverse

One area of technology that many adult entrepreneurs will be keeping a close eye on in 2016 is virtual reality.

Todd Glider, CEO of BaDoink, is generally optimistic where adult VR is concerned, although he acknowledged that it can be a costly investment.

“The teledildonics market will expand, and we’ll witness more partnerships with studios,” Glider told XBIZ. “We’ll inevitably see more competitors producing VR scenes, and the videos themselves will get more sophisticated. The degree to which the industry embraces the technology is dependent upon the evolution of the production process and perceived consumer engagement.

“VR scenes are, at present, more expensive to produce than non-VR scenes. If the cost of production decreases, more studios will get into the game. So let’s say you throw caution to the wind and buy into VR as the future of porn; if you need that ROI today, tomorrow or a month from now, you’re faced with some challenges.”

Asked to comment on some of the most important virtual reality trends for 2016, Glider responded: “Facebook is already pitching VR to its advertisers and looking for office space for a virtual reality shop in San Francisco. And there will be plenty of new hardware hitting the marketplace. Oculus. Vice. Sony. Putting aside each of these products’ deserved hype, though, Cardboard will be the HMD that drives consumer uptake and legitimizes the platform in 2016. We will also see great advances in VR gaming.”

“What’s out there now in the VR space is pretty anemic when compared to the sophistication inherent in today’s non-VR console and computer games. So we’ll see some signals with the release of Rock Band VR and will be looking at how it stacks up. As well, you’ll hear more and more about startups relative to VR. Business-to-business applications, travel and tourism, self-help solutions — some will capture the imaginations of consumers, others the wallets of venture capitalists.”

Richard Cottrell, global sales director for the Barcelona, Spain-based advertising network ExoClick, told XBIZ: “VR has the potential to create great opportunities with several manufacturers releasing viewing sets, and this could also be a key mobile traffic driver with Samsung Gear and Google’s Cardboard both exploiting mobile devices to bring VR to the mainstream. Fortune.com predicted that by the end of 2016, estimates are that more than 10 million people will be using VR.”

“If content producers can build rich experiences that users can access through their phones, the numbers will soar faster than anyone can predict. It will be very interesting to see which business models content producers and VR publisher platforms will implement. I would like to see freemium models funded by advertising to maximize the mainstream reach of VR technology.”

For 2016, Yuval Kijel, who heads marketing efforts for the cam-oriented Streamate.com and the affiliate program Cambuilder, isn’t overly bullish on virtual reality where the adult webcam sector is concerned. Nonetheless, Kijel said, owners of cam sites should at least keep an eye on VR technology as 2016 moves along.

“I assume we’ll see some initial tests with live cam VR,” Kijel told XBIZ. “But I think it’s still too soon for that becoming a real toll for webcam in 2016.”

Brian Shuster, founder and CEO of Red Light Center and Utherverse, asserted that virtual reality has strong possibilities for erotica, although he cautioned that adult VR still has some technological challenges to overcome.

“In theory, VR porn is a spectacular new format for the industry, promising to revitalize business by making the content much more detailed, realistic and compelling,” Shuster told XBIZ. “In practice, VR porn is challenging to shoot, and there are severe limitations on the kinds of porn that can be generated. Almost all the techniques developed to generate contemporary adult content simply don’t work in VR, and so, there will be years of working out the bugs in VR-filmed content before studios are routinely producing VR porn that is generally superior to Internet porn.”

Shuster continued: “Still, the content that does get produced and that works natively and naturally in VR and for the VR headsets will be so incredible that consumers will pay for the experiences.”

“In this way, research and development of a wider range of content that is increasingly good will be funded — and ultimately, porn will lead the way in refining and shooting content and technology that will push VR forward,” he said. “2016 is the year in which that will all actually get started.”

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