Daniel Dilallo was back at the Game Developers Conference a couple of weeks ago, but it wasn’t to show off a new Guitar Hero and Call of Duty game. Rather, the former game developer was at the Gold Club SF, a “gentlemen’s club,” to show off his new virtual reality app for the strip club, Gold Club SF VR.
Dilallo is one of the game developers who has made the leap into VR. But he has also crossed a line that others won’t, moving from mainstream entertainment into making porn and, in the case of Gold Club SF VR, risqué R-rated experiences. Dilallo’s Mode VR and VRClubz.com created a VR app for the Gold Club San Francisco strip club that features clothed, topless, or fully nude exotic dancers.
The idea is to bring the immersive experience of the gentlemen’s club into the privacy of your own home. The app is available in beta form now, and it debuts later this year. Dilallo hopes to use it as a springboard for bringing many other strip clubs into VR.
“People ask why you wouldn’t go to a real club instead of going to a VR club,” Dilallo said in an interview with GamesBeat at a VIP booth in the club, with loud music blaring in the background. “But you can’t always get to a club. And you can’t get as interactive as this in a real club.”
As we noted in our earlier profile of Dilallo, the move into VR porn has opened new opportunities and a chance to make a fortune on the technological frontier, where everything is moving fast, and the promise of riches awaits. VR is expected to be a $25 billion industry by 2021, according to tech advisor Digi-Capital, and you might bet that porn will drive a decent share of that.
“I think the VR industry is only going to grow with adult entertainment,” said Reya Sunshine, an adult performer and one of the models in the Gold Club SF VR app, in an interview. “It’s only up from here.”
The Gold Club SF VR
The app was built in partnership with former porn actress Christy Mack and the Gold Club SF. Dilallo filmed 15 women for the app at the local Armory, including four dancers who work at the Gold Club SF. Then, he blended the high-definition video with the computer-animated reproduction of the actual strip club. He captured the club’s look with 360-degree cameras and then had his artists recreate the textures of the club. The finished product looks very realistic as dancers gyrate on stage.
“With virtual reality, we recognized a golden opportunity to deliver our highly rated entertainment experience to the comfort of your living room,” said Craig Bordeau, general manager of Gold Club SF.
“We took the footage to real-estate 3D artists and gave it to them, and they made it look like the real thing,” Dilallo said.
VR users will be able to go into the club, get VIP treatment, sit at tables, and get virtual lap dances with pornstars like Megan Rain, Christy Mack, Reya Sunshine, and Kendra Lust. The project is available for preorder on VixenVR.com, and it will go into soft launch in November.
Once the app formally launches, you’ll pay for an upgraded experience. You will be able to purchase special privileges while inside the club for additional money. You can buy credits for solo lap dances, mimicking everything that happens in a real strip club “but at a fraction of the price.”
You’ll feel like you’re getting dances from real pornstars or Gold Club dancers. Players can take a front row seat to stage dances or enjoy champagne-room private shows which offer single, double, or triple girl action. Tipping the stage girls causes them to remove articles of clothing while the club’s resident DJ plays tracks by new music artists.
I tried it out with the Oculus Rift headset. After I put on the headset, I was face to face with pornstar Reya Sunshine, who was dancing on stage. The imagery looked surprisingly realistic. The videos are streamed into the scene, and the dancer can be changed on the fly.
“Reya gives you a dance, and she goes from bikini to topless to fully nude,” Dilallo said. “You can buy dances for your buddy. You can be a VIP player and get free admission for you and a couple of guests. She’s giving you a sign to tip her. You make it rain, and now, you’re good to go.”
The app will launch in an R-rated version for more mainstream VR platforms. There’s also a topless version and a fully nude version. It will be available on the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and on the PC as a free download (for now) at VRClubz.com.
“We believe we’ve got the right direction with the animation-based filming approach,” Dilallo said. “We know where the user is looking; 360 video isn’t cutting it. They don’t know what the user is doing. They don’t know if the user is reaching out. Ours adds a whole new level to the experience by adding the interactivity of a game.”
Dilallo’s company is now trying to partner with other big strip clubs around the country to do more localized versions of the strip club app. He’s expecting to be able to do a lot more versions of it.
Sunshine was very polite when I asked her if she was a porn star or a stripper. She said she does webcam work as an exotic dancer.
“I make my own porn,” she said, laughing.
She has dabbled in 360 video already, but she was impressed with Dilallo’s production with multiple cameras. You can double up with two girls or three girls in a room if you want, she said.
“Absolutely,” she said. “I think it’s more interactive and brings a whole different element to it. It’s literally like the girl is right there. It feels more real. You can look around and control your view and angle. You can walk around the club. You don’t have that kind of control in porn.”
From games to VR porn
Dilallo spent years working on the visual technology, which blends a film-like image of a woman with the animated backgrounds that replicate the look of the real club.
VRClubz.com is part of the ModeVR LLC family, which includes VixenVR.com, a virtual reality site with additional immersive adult themed VR games and products like Temptation Towers.
Dilallo is based in Jacksonville, Florida, where he runs Mode VR and 3x Studios, which focuses on VR apps. He has worked on projects, such as a 3D-animated shopping mall for porn. He also served as the director of a new VR experience dubbed Kim Kardashian Superstar, a Vivid-produced show with a Kardashian look-alike that features the real Kardashian’s X-rated video.
“I never thought I would go into adult VR,” Dilallo said. “I really liked the medical VR space. It had potential to help people. I focused on it and built a couple of prototypes. I approached some venture capital groups. VR is expensive. My type of designs combine film production and game development. I wasn’t able to raise the money to keep my team.”
So, Dilallo had to think hard about what to do next.
He added, “The team was very valuable. Four highly trained developers could do the work of 20. But, I couldn’t keep them working in that medical space. I started taking one VR project after another — from Lamborghini to Playboy. I made a little money from random development stuff in VR marketing. We were just getting by, and the space that was moving the quickest was the adult space. The adult space drives technology, and I am a direct witness to that.”
I first met Dilallo at a virtual reality meetup at The Armory, the famous San Francisco landmark that is now owned by Peter Acworth, the owner of Kink.com (the maker of BDSM and fetish porn films). His company was among a dozen at the event that were working in VR porn. Dilallo has had a chance to shoot at The Armory, where they have tons of bondage props in the basement and store lubricant by the barrel. It is, of course, a controversial place.
Dilallo started out as a tester at Acclaim Entertainment for about a year and a half. Then, he went to college at Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, where he got a computer engineering degree. He went straight to a job at Activision at a studio in Albany, N.Y., where he worked as a mission designer for an Amazing Spider-Man video game.
He worked under the umbrella of Vicarious Visions, an Activision-owned studio, from 2006 to 2011. He went on to work on tools for Guitar Hero III and audio design on Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2. He did game design on Spyro and then shifted to the innovations lab, where he worked on two Call of Duty and Guitar Hero prototypes. He even worked on a game he proposed dubbed Call of Duty: Roman Wars.
Dilallo looked at his options and grew excited about a new area of video games: virtual reality. After the Oculus Rift bubbled up in 2013 and Oculus VR issued its development kit (DK1), Dilallo checked it out.
“I knew it was going to hit big,” he said.
Dilallo assembled a small team, but he couldn’t get enough work. One of his business partners secured some work doing a VR prototype for Playboy. The project drew a lot of attention in user testing.
“Everybody was going nuts over that, and I could see from the reaction that it would be a bigger market,” Dilallo said.
A couple of years ago, Dilallo realized that porn and other “adult entertainment” projects would generate a lot of money. He worked on one called Temptation Towers, which was like a shopping mall for porn. That project included partnerships with KinkVR, BadoinkVR, Muscle Girl Fitness, and several others. Wearing a VR headset, you walk into a room and then into a porn film, viewing it from a first-person perspective. Temptation Towers is live and available on places like BadoinkVR.
“The user can reach out and undress an actress,” Dilallo said. “We want the videos to feel interactive. That’s the kind of technology I have been working on for almost 10 years now.”
Dilallo said he doesn’t want the strip club app to be pigeonholed as a XXX title, and he wants to get it on mainstream platforms, such as PlayStation VR. Over time, Dilallo believes that the combination of filmed porn and interactive gaming will yield powerful results. He thinks that animated porn is a poor substitute by comparison, at least for now. Film provides the best quality for now in providing the best realism, he said.
Dilallo sees other game developers moving into porn, as he has met them at places like the AVN (Adult Video News) porn awards event in Las Vegas.
“The adult space would be where I could support the team and eventually go mainstream,” he said. “We are a young company with shoestring budgets, without venture capitalists behind us. So, we moved into the adult space.”