These days, games often have multiplayer portals with chat channels & match making system for the multiplayer aspects of the game.
An example would be battle.net, magic the gathering online's chat rooms, halo etc.
Now, for the rest of us indie gamers that probably won't be able to spend much development effort on creating those back-ends from scratch, what options do we have?
I was thinking of something along the line of using IRC as the backbone of the system. From there, implement the "community" aspect, player tracking, game tracking and match making on top of that. It seems to be what the old battle.net (brood war era) used to be.
The question is, is this easy to do? What does it take to run an irc server, and I suppose this also requires writing an IRC client (which seems to have been done a lot these days?)?
If there are other ways as well (say, an open framework for this stuff), let's hear them too.