Pornhub Brings Bad Virtual Reality Porn to the Masses

Pornhub joins the esteemed ranks of The New York Times by sending free Google Cardboard VR headsets.

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Mar 23 2016, 2:00pm

Remember when The New York Times sent out free Google Cardboard VR headsets to all of its print subscribers, giving some legitimacy to the idea of virtual reality journalism?

Pornhub today announced that it's doing something similar for virtual reality porn.

The company, which operates a video streaming site where you can watch a lot of porn for free (a "tube site") has partnered with virtual reality porn producer BaDoink to launch a virtual reality category on Pornhub.com, where viewers can stream 180 and 360 degree porn videos for free.

Seeing as how most people don't yet have access to virtual reality headsets and aren't likely to get one at launch given their high prices, Pornhub is also giving away 10,000 pairs of Google Cardboard goggles to people who sign up here.

"Now, our users are not only able to view our content, but be protagonists in the experience and interact with their favorite porn stars," Pornhub vice president Corey Price said in a statement. "We encourage our users to request a free pair of virtual reality goggles and visit Pornhub's virtual reality section. There, users' wildest fantasies will come alive as they slip into a world of heightened titillation."

That's all well and good, but Price is overselling the virtual reality porn experience here, at least as provided by streaming video and Google Cardboard VR.

It was certainly easy for me to browse Pornhub on my iPhone, drop it in the cardboard shell, and start watching virtual reality porn, but as we've previously reported, what this method gains in accessibility it more than loses in video quality, comfort, and overall user experience.

At the time of writing Motherboard only had access to one point-of-view video preview, where the viewer is in the body of a man having sex with pornstar Aletta Ocean. It was a 180 degree video, meaning that moving your head around doesn't do anything. Overall, it didn't seem like the virtual reality element added much to the experience. At this point, it's also not clear what kind and how many videos the Pornhub virtual reality category will offer.

It's going to be very hard in the foreseeable future for anyone to get their hands on a high-end virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift or Vive, especially with the kind of privacy one wants when perusing Pornhub. Google Cardboard is often offered as the solution to that problem, letting people experience virtual reality for free (if they have a smartphone), but the problem is that it's a terrible representation of what virtual reality tech is currently capable of.

Virtual reality journalism is a cool idea, but I think The New York Times made a mistake by giving people the impression that Google Cardboard is what virtual reality is like. It isn't. It's much better. Pornhub is making the same mistake.

Just wait a little longer until the Oculus Rift becomes more affordable. You could be humping blow-up dolls and vibrating rubber asses with way higher resolution and better head tracking. The future is soon, just wait.