One of my biggest gripes about most online social networks that I participate in (Facebook, LIVE, etc) is the absence of functionality that takes into account how “strong” or “open” my friendship is with any given person. Fixing this is a major opportunity — if not a long-term, competitive imperative — for social networks in general, and the video game ecosystems that aspire to be legitimate social networks in specific.
We do not treat all our friends and acquaintances equally in real life, so why should social networks force us to treat our online connections in equal fashion? People need tools that enable them to selectively modify how any given user in their network can view their profile, interact with them, etc. This process of selective modification can be sped up with user-defined “friend types” that can be applied, in a stroke, to many users in a network.
For example, were such a system to be implemented for LIVE or Facebook, I would personally choose to break all my connections into three categories: