SAN DIEGO — Journalist David Ewalt’s new book releasing next week, “Defying Reality: The Inside Story of the Virtual Reality Revolution,” includes a frank discussion on the business of VR porn.
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.
“None of the major digital-distribution services allow adult content in their stores,” Ewalt writes. “Naughty America subscribers have to access the content via a web browser, which is lower quality, or download files to their computer or phone and then ‘sideload’ them into a VR video player in order to view them.”
Naughty America’s Paul commented in the book: “A lot of these big companies are fearful of getting associated with porn. I think there’s concern about minors accessing the content, but we’ve had pay-for-view on cable systems for years, so it’s not like that problem can’t be solved technologically. There’s a way you can do verification to avoid that. So, I think a lot of it is political.”
Nevertheless, VR porn continues to find customers willing to go the extra mile to seek it out, Ewalt writes.
In the 18 months after producing its first VR video, Naughty America has released 108 more, making it one of the most prolific producers of VR content in the world.
“Our customers have embraced VR,” Hronopoulos told Ewalt. “It’s just so intimate, there’s just nothing else like it.”
Ewalt notes in the book that VR porn consumers are also more willing to pay for content than consumers of typical online porn.
“One of every 167 visitors to the VR-scene preview pages on Naughty America’s website became a paying customer compared to one in 1,500 for traditional scenes,” Ewalt wrote. “Subscriptions to Naughty America’s website grew 55 percent in 2016, its first full year of offering VR; customers paid $25 a month to access unlimited videos (including more than 7,500 traditional two?dimensional movies), or $74 for a year.
“And in the 18 months since releasing its first VR video, Naughty America’s revenue increased more than 40 percent. For all of 2016, VR-driven revenue was up 433 percent.”
“Defying Reality: The Inside Story of the Virtual Reality Revolution” is published by Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. It can be preordered here.