Virtual reality and porn are already great bedfellows

Let's hope this doesn't flop

A lot of people think the virtual reality dream is destined to die again. Sometimes I wonder if those people are right, and then I remember that porn exists and think, "How could this possibly flop?"

Virtual reality porn is already out there - you can go experience it right now if you have a headset - but there's potential for it to become a huge industry once bigger names like Oculus and HTC are on the market. It might even determine whether some of these systems sink or swim.

Analysis from analyst SimilarWeb has revealed significant growth in the virtual reality adult industry. Observations of 10 VR pornography sites between January and November showed a 202% growth in traffic over the period.

Not just that, but there were 3.2 million worldwide visits in October alone.

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Those numbers alone are worth flagging, but here's where it gets more interesting: virtual reality headset manufacturers are already seeing benefits.

The data shows that between January and November 16.7% of Oculus's traffic was from referrals, and 2.7% of that was from virtual reality porn sites. That's 126,000 referrals in total.

Headset maker Homido also reaped some rewards, with 51.4% of its referral traffic coming from virtualrealityporn.com (around 82,000 visits).

The Oculus touch

Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey said last year that the company would not block pornographic content on the device. "We think Rift is an open platform," he said. "We don't control what software can run on it."

"Porn and gaming will drive sales because the experience will be so immersive, people's experience will go viral," John Straw, author of the book iDisrupted, told techradar.

Another interesting nugget in the SimilarWeb data is that Oculus received 1,903,000 visits on January 6, the day the Rift was made available for pre-order.

While many visitors were probably just checking the price, SimilarWeb says over a million people went to the shop section of the site, with "many" of them going all the way through to checkout and shipping.

In short, plenty of people are interested enough in virtual reality to chuck a lot of money at it.