E3: EA previews new social networking model in Nucleus/Rupture

Just a few months after Electronic Arts' purchase of the Rupture social networking site, it looks like file-sharing legend Shawn Fanning now has his moment in the sun. Fanning appeared during EA's E3 press conference today, introducing the new and improved Rupture service. It, along with the Nucleus offering, will offer new ways for players to collaborate on and compare their in-game successes. Nucleus sounds like an EA-game-specific Xbox Live-style tag. Gamers will be able to carry around their 'EA tag' around from game to game and across systems. Whether you're playing on the Wii or PC, your information will be safely stored in a central locale.

Rupture, Fanning's project, will carry this collaboration forward with an ability to track and challenge friends across games and platforms. Rupture will be open to any game developer that wants to make use of EA's API. They've already set up an informational site for developers on the Rupture website. They're also planning to extend the functionality of their in-development MMOs - a tantalizing possibility for WoW-weary MMO players.

A somewhat-overlooked part of the announcement touched on the growing trend of microtransactions in mainstream gaming; the company was up-front about their intention to offer pieces of content for small fees in Battlefield Heroes and The Sims 2 Store. We'll be sure to follow up with the online services folks during the rest of the week.