VR Porn: A Profitable Dirty Secret

I got an Oculus Go for Black Friday and I can honestly say the only thing I would definitely 100% use it for is porn.” — A very honest opinion from one of our readers.

Sure, this reader could be the only one thinking this. But the industry numbers tell a similar story...

Despite being ignored—and even blocked—by many major hardware and software companies, Adult VR owns an impressive amount of the industry’s mindshare. Yet, if you ask most industry leaders about VR porn, they will pretend to have no idea what you are talking about. Even though 60% of the top VR websites on the internet are porn related.

At So Profit, we believe ignoring taboo industry trends is bad. Especially when there is money to be made. We won’t sit here and say “Porn? What’s that?”

No. Instead we will cover it because it is arguably the strongest performing segment of the VR industry. How important is porn to the virtual reality community? To find out, we dug into some numbers…

The Big Growth Statistics

It might not make anyone proud, but adult content is probably bringing in the lion’s share of cash flow for VR. The term “vr porn” is the number one related search term to “vr” and the search term beats out “vr games” and “vr videos.”

“VR Porn,” is by far the most searched term related to VR, and the major Adult VR websites are set up to convert that search volume into site traffic.

And these days site traffic = cash.

Take Red Light Center 2.0—compatible with the Oculus Rift. Even in 2015, the site had 25 million registered users who paid monthly subscriptions of $20 to $30. And that number has only gone up since then.

All in all, virtual reality porn is forecasted to be a $1 billion business by 2025. This prediction would only put VR porn behind video games at $1.4 billion and NFL-related content at $1.23 billion. And that’s why sites like Pornhub and VR Bangers were quick to get VR distribution in place. At this point, VR Bangers even has their own app, “Play’a” AND they recently showcased a promising “sex helmet camera” to streamline recording VR point-of-view video.

Mobile VR is Winning, For Now

VRFocus estimates that 92% of VR porn consumption comes from mobile. This likely has less to do with the quality, and more to do with accessibility. Any person with a phone can buy the Google Cardboard for $15 and get to it.

But with mobile-based VR, users must pull the phone in and out the headset to browse. Very inconvenient. Even during the “experience,” the UI is less than desirable. Using “gaze” selection is necessary for skipping to different parts of a VR video, and it often doesn’t even function properly.

But the recent introduction of standalone headsets promises to change that. Standalone headsets offer the ability to easily browse and hop into experiences. And the UI for playing and pausing VR videos is good (so we’ve heard).

Consider the standalone Oculus Go.

No joke, “oculus go porn” is the 4th highest keyword related to the Oculus Go. Search volume for that keyword sits at 4,400 and 1,900 per month for games and porn, respectively. Porn may not be beating games here, but it’s clear that porn has a strong presence with Facebook’s standalone 3DoF headset.

NOTE: Search volume stats in this article come from Google Adwords & Google Trends.

Zuckerberg hasn’t publicly acknowledged VR porn, but it is a huge selling point for Facebook’s Oculus Go, and he almost certainly understands this. It is just as capable at loading VR porn as the Rift or Vive, despite coming in at half the price.

With tethered VR, the cords can also get in the way of a seamless immersive experience, not to mention you have the hassle of booting up a computer. But that certainly hasn’t stopped a porn-hungry Oculus Rift crowd from generating 2,900 in search volume for the term “oculus rift porn” every month. Regardless if you’re talking about mobile, standalone, or tethered VR, “porn” almost always makes an appearance in top search terms.

A Porn History Lesson

If you were around when VHS was alive and well, you will probably remember the Betamax, which lost the videotape war. Many VR writers are comparing the modern evolution of VR to the days when porn helped VHS dominate the market. Essentially, porn producers picked VHS over Betamax. And apparently, the world followed suit...

There’s speculation that porn will do the same favor of virtual reality.

Unfortunately, all of this happened before the advent of good, publicly accessible data. And it’s hard to find data that proves the VHS narrative. Regardless, porn swooped in for the kill yet again when the internet was invented—porn websites now get more traffic than Twitter, Amazon, and Netflix combined.

Since the internet was invented, Google also became the data behemoth it is today. Their data shows there have been other hardware releases that have contributed to porn viewership.

We are talking about the mobile phone and, more interestingly, mobile tablets.

What We Can Learn from Tablet Porn

There could be a parallel between the introduction of tablets and the introduction of VR—at least in terms of public interest. Different, because tablets and phones still rendered the same 2D content.

But comparable—because tablets and phones offered ease-of-access, which was an improvement for consumers. VR promises to offer a more immersive experience. A very different, but worthwhile improvement.

We found the “interest” level for tablets over time followed a similar cyclical pattern to the one we see in consumer VR right now.

When comparing the search volume of “Porn” and “Games” on any device, it’s helpful to look at the very scientific porn-games ratio. For tablets, there’s about 1 porn-related search for every 10 game-related searches, resulting in a 1:10 porn-games ratio. For VR, the ratio is just about 1:1!

In comparison to games, porn was NEVER as big on tablets as it is in VR. The distribution of “use-cases” for the tech appears to be different.

Also important to note is the decay of interest, which happens naturally. Tablet sales have been on the decline for years. But here’s the thing...

Waning tablet sales numbers are largely a factor of market saturation—with companies like Amazon kicking tablets out the door at very low prices. Most of these companies have far more to gain by upselling users to memberships, showing them ads, and monetizing them in other ways. Getting low-cost tablets into people’s hands contributes to other revenue streams.

All of this is to say we think VR is comparable to the tablet market. Companies will discount lower-quality versions of the product to increase market saturation, and monetize users in other ways. We expect increasing consumer interest for a couple more business cycles before the interest pulls back. Headset sales may hit their prime in the next couple of years, but that period will quickly be followed by decreasing growth as tech companies fight to saturate the market.

But that’s okay. The real money is in the upsell.

Regular Porn vs VR Porn—What’s the Difference?

One of the biggest differences between traditional 2D porn and VR—the latter requires an entirely new library of content. Which is why the market is having a much slower liftoff. The content produced for VR porn is very different than the content we’re used to—it requires different equipment, different production, different editing techniques, and different acting.

Regardless of production costs, end users have a lot of positive things to say about this new form of content. You still have some of the same ridiculous plots and bad acting, but the “positions” and overall experience are far closer to reality.

As another reader said, “VR was made for porn.”

Whether you are talking about games or porn, VR is at an early stage. But there's no denying: adult filmmakers are better able to leverage VR’s strengths than video game creators. Video games require higher budgets and teams of technically skilled people who must wade through the largely uncharted waters of VR. Also, AAA game producers want to see a large base of headset users BEFORE funding expensive games.

But in porn, it appears fixed shot limitations (3 degrees of freedom) is working just fine. People are willing to pay for it, which is why there are well over 3,000 movies produced for the format. Porn also lends itself naturally to subscription models and advertising.

Don’t get us wrong, there are a lot of great VR games out there already. But porn seems to be the “niche” that will truly spur adoption and usage rates for VR. VR porn offers a “special something” that 2D porn cannot offer. It is already a preferable alternative to traditional porn, and that means a lot for the outlook of the entire VR industry.

Adult VR In Sum

You can blast off into space or dive into the ocean’s abyss—but it looks like watching people getting down and dirty takes priority.

VR porn content creators are crushing site traffic goals and there are already dozens of websites offering exclusively Adult VR content. Unfortunately, there are not many investment opportunities on the content side. These companies are private—but with so many players coming to the table it would be hard to make a pick regardless.

But we do have some “back-door” picks that you CAN invest in >> Learn More

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