A list of ways IRC can be utilised to replace closed systems;
I was reading this reddit comment about developers moving away from Steam as a content delivery platform. It ended with the sentence:
I hope everyone loves having 6-10 logins, friends lists, etc. because that's the land we're in now.
If I made a game, rather than (or in addition to) using my publisher's friend system (like Steam, or Origin/EA etc), it wouldn't be difficult to build an open system based on IRC.
You give the user an option for IRC details (a server, a channel and a password). You share these details with friends (you could have multiple servers/channels to keep groups seperate if required) and then, each game client that listens/posts to that channel can keep it's friends list updated.
It would be easy to implement/support:
/away is playing Civilisation IV (click here to request to join)
Problem #5891 solved.