How Naughty America Became the Only Porn Company at E3

Adult entertainment company Naughty America tells Motherboard why it was at E3 and what its relationship with the likes of Oculus VR is like today.

Willie Clark

An E3 attendee enjoys non-pornographic content. Image: Entertainment Software Association

Ian Paul, CIO of Naughty America, thinks the world is ready for virtual reality porn.

Naughty America—the first major adult entertainment studio to produce VR content—was the only such content maker at E3, a show traditionally centered around video game reveals. The Entertainment Software Association, the organization that runs E3, allowed Naughty America to have a booth, with some stipulations.

"They said we couldn't have any nudity shown, and that we had to ID everybody who comes for the demo, so that made sense, and we're happy to adhere to that," Paul said.

The demos, of course, contained full nudity, while NA's public-facing booth itself, did not.

The exterior of Naughty America's E3 booth. Image: Naughty America

"E3 sits squarely at the intersection of entertainment and technology—and freedom of expression," the ESA said in statement to Motherboard regarding NA's participation in the show." "All our exhibitors showcase hardware and software that broaden understanding of how the world interacts with technology in a manner that is respectful of the event's mature attendees. Regulations and processes are in place to ensure that all exhibitors adhere to code of conduct guidelines and help ensure a positive experience for everyone."

Paul added that the ESA did field submissions from some of NA's competitors, who were denied.

"That was cool, and recognition that we can manage things professionally," Paul said.

Being at E3 was something that was important for NA, Paul felt, and a recognition of what gaming has achieved in American culture: The company's content riffs on culture, and he felt they needed to explore how to do that with the video game industry.

"We're not gamers, so we're here just to learn and what not," Paul said. "So that's kind of our interest in exploring the gaming community."

Naughty America also wanted to introduce itself to gamers, given that it's easier to sell subscriptions to consumers who already have purchased VR headsets.

"We want to be mindful of letting gamers know that this content is out there, so this seemed like an appropriate venue for that," Paul said.

Paul expected a good reception at the show, but was surprised at just how busy the booth was.

"I didn't think we'd be slammed from when doors open to when it closed," Paul said. "I'll tell you, like last night, security had to come and tell people to leave. They're like 'Take those things off their faces and they got to go'… we didn't expect that."

Of course, porn often faces a public stigma—right before my demo and talk with Paul a female attendee came up and inquired if the company had any female employees (it does, and also demoed point-of-view content intended for women and is working to expand that category's library)—but public perception and acceptance is still something that's always a battle for adult entertainment providers.

Oculus Rift's Palmer Luckey, for example, was very supportive of allowing adult content last year, and while Naughty America VR supports all available VR headsets, including Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, and Samsung VR, relationships with those companies are still tricky.

"There is a relationship," Paul said. "There is. It's all kind of off the record and over drinks."

Paul said that the various companies are very interested in hearing about market share information—where they stand against their competitors within NA's customers—and that NA has also provided technical feedback, such as usability issues. The headset makers have also provided techniques to help NA deliver videos more efficiently.

"It's all very like 'Hey, we didn't tell you this, but here you go,'" Paul said. "They don't want to be named as having a relationship with us directly. Which is unfortunate. I think it's a little bit behind the times. I think pretty much everybody is comfortable with the fact that they look at pornography."