Photo courtesy of WankzVR
WankzVR isn't the only company who has begun to experiment with female POV porn in VR: VirtualRealPorn features a mix of lesbian and heterosexual porn also shot this way—although it does require viewers to pay. There are also plenty of niche sites that have long been producing content by and for women. But female POV efforts by VR porn sites represent an evolution in the way mainstream adult filmmakers view content for women.
There's never been a lot of focus on doing [porn] correctly for women.
"Our general mentality several years ago was, if we wanted to make couples-friendly adult content for women, we'd take a lot of the intensity out of the scene," says Bradley Phillips, managing director of Amsterdam-based Pimproll, which operates nearly 1,000 websites, including WankzVR. "We'd tone down the level of a lot of the action, add in a lot more kissing."
In recent years, however, "when our female users started openly giving us a lot of feedback, they said 'That's really not what we're looking for,'" Phillips says. "Men and women are looking for virtually the same thing, but each is looking for themselves to be the centerpiece of the content."
The attempts to reach women through virtual reality headsets come amid hopes that premium VR content will make people willing to pay for porn in general. The rise of ad-supported sites like Pornhub, that are free for viewers, have made consumers more picky about what they spend their money on.
Meanwhile, opening the market up to women may have big potential: PornHub, which logs some 92 billion views annually, says 26 percent of its global visitors in 2016 were women, an increase of two percent from the year before.
Phillips wants to find a way to eventually earn revenue from WankzVR's female POV content (the first three videos released have each been downloaded over 10,000 times so far). "A lot more women consume adult content than we realize," he says, "but the reality is, there's never been a lot of focus on doing [porn] correctly for women."
Despite the promise, VR content is still somewhat limited by the technology currently used to film it: Bulky camera rigs restrict the ability of filmmakers to mimic natural motion, resulting in scenes that can feel unnatural because the principal performer has to lay still.
In addition, "because of the way that 360-degree cameras capture video, people inside the video tend to be grotesquely large in relation to you," says Stephanie Llamas, vice president of research and strategy at New York-based research firm SuperData Research. "You have the camera mount right in the middle, and it ends up warping everything."
We were giving women our idea of what they wanted.
This may be partly why adult entertainment made up a relatively small portion of the estimated $331 million in global revenue for VR software last year, she says. Just eight percent of VR software revenue in 2016 was from 360-video and entertainment media, which includes (but isn't limited to) adult content. In comparison, 42 percent of revenue was from gaming.
Beyond technological constraints, creating adult content for women is also difficult because much of it is still created by men, says Dawn Serra, a sex educator and host of the Sex Gets Real podcast. Mainstream companies usually operate on an assumption "that's pretty sexist: that men are the ones who seek out porn and jerk off to it."
In contrast, lot of feminist porn, for example, such as the indie content featured on sites like Erotic Films, are "typically written and directed by women or queer individuals," so "the likelihood that a woman is going to see her fantasies reflected is much higher," says Serra. "The performers have an opportunity to weigh in on what's happening, [whereas] a lot of mainstream porn is like, 'Here's what we're gonna shoot... now get in there and do what we tell you.'"
For its part, WankzVR's female point-of-view content is still produced by men. Phillips says this is because the high learning curve for creating high quality VR content makes it difficult to bring on a new crew. But, "there are two women on the production team. Neither is a producer, but they're definitely key players," Phillips says. "They get leaned on a little more with respect to the female point-of-view content we produce."
"It has become evident that what we were doing wasn't enough," he adds. "We were giving women our idea of what they wanted, as opposed to doing the homework into what makes them happy."