Play’s crowdfunding campaign to build a platform for kink fans pivots from native to Web app

Play kink dating app

Last month, US-based kink lifestyle brand, Play, launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise $30,000 for its prospective app with the aim of bringing BDSM out of the shadows. However, the campaign raised just 5 percent of its funding goal. Now, it’s planning to put that cash towards a kinky dating website, with the app remaining the ultimate goal.

Founder and CEO, Sasha Sobolevsky along with her business partner and male Dom, Sir Rucifer, hope to compete with the many other kink and fetish dating companies by making the whole experience more approachable, through bright colors and a simple interface. It’ll also serve as a kink guide that prioritizes “safe, sane and consensual” exploration, reflected through the technical features, the company says.

Safety Checks

One distinctive feature Play is hoping to still bring to the app is the “silent alarm” in which you input a trusted friend’s details, along with the details of your date. Users would be asked to check in with said friend, and if any issues (or silence) arise, then the location will be shared and your friend will be urged to call the police.

Similar to the safety apps designed for sex workers, Play’s planned safety checks will include the ability to report and block people. A peer-to-peer rating system will also allow users to gauge what their date will be like in terms of their “passion, respect, and skill level.” Respect being the one to note here.

Sanity Review

Though Sobolevsky says they are still working on the logistics of a matching feature, the criteria (perhaps surprisingly) won’t be based just on your kinks.

“As one of my friends put it – just because we both like bondage doesn’t mean we would enjoy each other’s company.” – Sobolevsky

While the site will only allow for legal practices within BDSM to be represented, Sobolevsky understands that privacy within the community is essential.

Given the data leaks of other dating apps, and the sensitive nature of the data collected here, the Play team says they will conduct secure code reviews, assign formal responsibility of software security to one particular person, and “use SSL-encrypted connections to the servers, which will use SSL-encrypted connections to the database, storing the data on encrypted disks” to keep that data safe.

Though Play says it will be verifying all members, we’ve asked for more details on exactly what that verification will entail. We will update here if we hear back.

As the service is still under development, Sobolevsky says there are a few different routes to monetization, either by in-app purchases of kink products through retail partnerships or gamifying the experience with buying “how-to” videos.

Whether or not the lack of crowdfunding support is an indicator of the potential viable monetization of the service remains to be seen.

Consenting Players

Along with a space to input your agreed safe word, there will be educational resources, reminding you that even if you pre-negotiated your hard and soft limits, consent can be revoked at any time.

The platform also plans to host moderated public forums with industry professionals where you can anonymously ask questions about kink, sex and sexual wellness and really learn what the consensual kinky dating experience is like. Sobolevsky explains that these will help you to consider what precautions to take before meeting someone in person.

Read Next: Hily’s safety-focused dating app arrives in the UK, France, Australia and New Zealand

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Oli Lipski

Oli Lipski

Oli is a freelance sex tech researcher based in London. With an MA in Sexual Dissidence, researching sex tech, and a BA in History, researching gender and sexuality, she has a keen understanding of the past, present and future of sex.

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