EverQuest 2 has had text chat between servers for years and SOE extended it between select SOE games (excluding Vanguard, of course) over 3 years ago if my memory serves me correctly. I thought SOE was attempting to tackle the problem of multiple shards when they experimented with putting all EQ2 Extended players on a single shard (Freeport) but they eventually got rid of the service. But the experience with Freeport may influence EQ Next.
Eve Online doesn't have to worry about multiple shards, but CCP launched a social networking platform, EVE Gate, last year that allows players out of the game to send mail to players in-game. EVE Gate also has a Facebook-wall type broadcast feature and a plug-in that allows voice chat without the client running. And with the probable launch of DUST 514 this summer/fall, CCP plans on tying the two games together both socially and mechanically.
Yesterday CCP Guard came out with a dev blog announcing the coming of corporation forums on the Eve forums on 8 February. That is not as innovative as you might think as my old guild in EQ2 used the SOE provided guild forums until we moved off of them to nicer digs, and that was about 4-5 years ago. The reasoning in CCP Guard's post goes along with the social networking theme:
"There are two reasons basically. We are very interested in providing corporations, particularly new and smaller corporations, with a community enhancing tool which boosts communication and corp cohesion without all the hassle of starting their own external forum. We also have DUST approaching and this will provide corporations with a cross-game platform where both their EVE members and their DUST members can talk and discuss whose planet to curbstomp next."Of course, just because a company supplies social networking tools doesn't mean that players will use them. A very vocal segment of the Eve community derided the site as "Spacebook" and only logged into EVE Gate to turn all of their privacy settings on since the default setting was to leave all of your information wide open to the public. And once a corporation starts getting serious, I'm pretty sure that it will move off the forums onto their own site to "look more serious". Who knows. Maybe established corporations will use these new forums as a holding spot for new members until they prove they are not spies. One can never tell in Eve.