(This article is part of a multi-part feature on the viability of different business models for virtual world porn. Links to other articles will be added to this one as they are finished.)
Ok. So you've got your content, you've got it all sorted out and looking pretty, now what? It's time to release it to the unwashed masses and start the money rolling in. Except there's one last problem... What's the best form for them to see it in?
There's 3 types of media formats that we'll cover here, all of which have been used in virtual worlds to varying degrees of success. There's little to say here about the distribution of real world porn as all these formats are so ubiquitous that it would lead far off the path of virtual porn.
Let's start with magazines. When I refer to magazines here, I mean actual in-world published magazines. These are only available in the client software of either the world they were created in, or a world that allows uploadable textures. Therefore, you're most likely to see these in somewhere like Second Life or ActiveWorlds (Or for the 3 of you using Croquet out there...). In-world magazines provide two advantages to your distribution model. First off, they are, for most intents and purposes, locked into the world. It is a chore (but still doable) to pull out the textures that make up the magazine and reupload/reuse them somewhere. It also means that your revenue stream is managed simply by whatever the world provides, versus having to deal with credit cards or money transfers. Secondly, it provides an immersive experience. However unimportant it sounds, there's something to be said for being able to view erotic material while using the character the material might well be related to (i.e. BDSM, furry, or ather types of avatars or characters). It also allows you to collbratively experience (Translation: circle-jerk) with others in the world.
In world magazines are not without their very steep downsides, though. The main problem an in world magazine faces is what I call the "preaching to the choir" factor. If you are viewing virutal porn in a virtual world, there are MANY less steps between looking at the porn and actually experiencing what is happening in the pictures, than say standing in the aisle of your local bookstore ogling a copy of Hustler that "fell out of the wrapper". If doing what is pictured is a few clicks away, why just be an idle spectator to an inanimate portrait? Similarly, the audience of the magazine will consist specifically of people who are already aware of the world. Many magazines have no presense outside their in-world distribution, meaning that advertising is mostly done in other in-world places. This means that the publisher relies on the platform to draw in new readers, versus using their material to draw people into the world.
Which brings us to the next topic: websites. Setting up a website for yourself is fairly trivial these days, and for this discussion, we'll assume that it's something like Sadako's, so I recommend checking that out first if you haven't. Websites means you can augment your in-world presence in two ways: The kiosk model or the regular model. The kiosk model refers to simply posting a small "This is what's available in my magazine in world" stub page (many shops currently do this), while the "regular" model refers to setting up a full, for pay gallery site. Each of these gives you possbility of the of bringing in new users specifically with your content, which alone is worth whatever work you may have to put into the page. If your imprint is what causes someone to sign up on and use the platform, you've got a joint customer AND marketer for yourself from day one, not to mention it can sometimes mean clickthrough/sign-up program funding from the company running the platform.
The cons of websites have already been mentioned in earlier articles, especially the skills article. On the web you're up against companies with graphic designers, programmers, and who knows what else to produce their content, so your content either has to be really, really good or really, really fucked u... er, obscure (and increasingly, both at the same time). What reason does someone have to look at your generated content when there are real boobs posted daily on things like Fleshbot? You also no longer have that small but trusty gap between people just picking your content up off the page and having to pull a texture out of the cache, but that is also becoming a rather moot point as more worlds go open source (however, the DMCA and copyright law comes in here just like it would with a real world porn company).
Finally, the gap no one has really crossed yet, movies. I have yet to see any serious porn machinima (Sorry, the WoW dwarf fucking video don't count). It's certainly possible, but the pros and cons stack up just like websites. You're required to provide something specialized, something good, or else why bother with fakeness? You've got all the same production issues plus the added task of being able to navigate the camera for your chosen platform well, as well as having a machine hefty enough to both render and record at the same time.
In addition, you have to start worry about things that your chosen platform may not provide you with by default. There's soundtracks, voice work, editing, and many other things integral to movies that may be hard if not impossible to add during but the post-production process. Even so, moving images can be much more powerful than stills, and on a platform where you can create scenes with the basic software that would otherwise require expensive special effects, there's a ton of creative potential waiting to happen for the right person to capture. The right person with massive amounts of time to invest.