UPDATE April 13th, 2020: Avatar name changes are now finally available! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to change your first and/or last name on your Second Life avatar.
UPDATE Nov. 21st, 2019: We have been told by Linden Lab that last names will become available by February 2020, and they are even having a last name contest! Details here.
Patch Linden added a bit more information to the recent announcement that Linden Lab was going to allow Second Life users to change their last names. He said, in a thread on the official Second Life user forums, that you would be able to change both first and last names:
It will be complete and total name changes, both first and surname. Just to set expectations on this, it is a later this year item.
When asked if the change would be available to everyone, or just those with the Resident last name, he added:
It will be available to everyone.
And, in answer to yet another question about whether or not you could hide your name:
No hiding of names. First name and surname combos will have to be unique like they are today. A couple of other questions that came up – no re-use of retired names, once a name has been used, it belongs to that account forever. We keep a transnational name change history. Only standard English characters will be permitted.
Just to make it clear, this is an upcoming ability to change to the actual avatar name, not the display name. When asked about how this change will affect the display names of avatars (which can be updated once a week):
This has no affect on display names and largely I do not anticipate we will change how display names work. If anything, it somewhat sunsets the need for them.
So, that makes everything a little clearer! Thanks, Patch! I predict that there will be a land rush on names once this feature is turned on for users. Being able to change both your first AND your last name (as long as somebody else doesn’t already have that combination) is a very nice feature to have!
UPDATE March 23rd: Inara Pey has a very detailed blogpost on this announcement by Linden Lab, with even more details:
The plan is to allow people to change their first and last name whenever they wish.
- As with the “old” system, users will be able to choose whatever first name they like, then select their last name from a pre-set list of available names.
- Once a name combination has been created, it is forever tied to that avatar, it cannot be used by anyone else, even if the “owner” later changes their name, or their account is deactivated.
- Previous names will be retained by the system, so if you can remember someone’s previous name, you can search on that and get their current name.
- As with the “old” system, this list of last names will be routinely changed with different names appearing on it.
- To help keep the available names relatively fresh, the Lab is considering accepting suggestions from users.
- It has not been determined if someone will be able to switch back to using a name they’ve previously used.
- Unicode will not be supported when entering a first name.
SECOND UPDATE April 2nd: Inara Pey has posted more details on the upcoming ability to change your avatar name in her report on the Second Life Web User Group meeting of March 28th:
- “Original / legacy” last names will not be re-opened for use.
- New users joining Second Life will still be given the automatic “last name” of “Resident”, but have the option of changing if they wish.
- The fee for name changes has not been announced, however, at this point the indication is that the fee will be in fiat currency (i.e. US dollars) not Linden Dollars.
- One of the reasons the return of last names will take time to be implemented is that all of the SL web properties – like the Marketplace – have to be updated to recognise users as they change their names (something which applies across almost all of the SL services when you think about it).
THIRD UPDATE Aug. 14th: Dakota Linden weighed in on the whole last names issue in a post on the official Second Life user forums:
It is wise not to speculate about what “might” happen at some time in the future regarding anything related to Second Life, or life in general for that matter.
1. ALL new accounts will be created with the Resident last name. Whether your personal choice in viewers allows that name to be hidden or not, ALL new accounts will have the last name of Resident.
2. IF a user chooses to become a Premium Member, they will have an option to purchase a different last name. The available last names will be from a Pre-Approved, rotating, list. If you do not want to purchase the option for a different last name, then don’t. No one is being FORCED to choose a last name other than Resident.
3. Will having the option to choose a last name change the gobbledy-gook first names? No. Why? Because some people will still choose to have weird or goofy first names that have no meaning at all, regardless of whether or not last names are available.
4. Will using your preferred, chosen, first name be easier when last names are available? YES! Why? Because you pick your own first name, then have an option from a pre-approved list of last names, to pick from. This means you will ALWAYS be able to have your preferred, chosen, first name, even if someone else is also using that name. Provided you are a Premium Account member AND you have paid for the option to have a different last name.
What is new about this information is that you have to have a Premium account in order to purchase a last name for your avatar. (Thanks to LittleMe Jewell for pointing out Dakota’s update!)
UPDATE Nov. 15th: This evening, I watched the recorded livestream of today’s Second Life Town Hall with Grumpity, Oz, and Patch Linden, and I wanted to add an update to this blogpost about the eagerly-anticipated ability to change your SL user name.
Grumpity reports that the team at Linden Lab is still working on it, but this project has been more complicated than anticipated. She now estimates that this will be released within the second quarter of next year (2019), rather than this year, which is definitely a major disappointment.
As for the cost of this new service, Grumpity estimates that it will be “on the order of a few months of Premium membership” (which is currently US$9.50 monthly, or US$22.50 quarterly, or US$72.00 annually). So expect this to cost about 20 to 25 dollars, which is about what I expected.
Grumpity stressed that these name changes are not meant to be (or replace) display names. She added that it should be possible for you to go back to a name you had before (for a fee).
Linden Lab will also be accepting suggestions from SL users for possible new last names, so watch for that announcement sometime in the future!
UPDATE June 25th, 2019: Today, April and Oz Linden were interviewed by Saffia Widdershins as part of the Second Life 16th birthday celebrations, and they were asked about the current status of this project.
Oz said that the hard part is not reintroducing last names, but allowing users to change their names. It turns out that SL was built with the assumption that your last name can never change (including all the single-name avatars who share the last name “Resident”). LL is still working on the project, and they are making progress. Oz says it will be done “eventually”, but he does not want to make a prediction as to when it would be available. So it would appear that the ability to change your SL name will not appear in the second quarter of 2019, as Grumpity had predicted last year.
UPDATE Oct. 1st, 2019: Well, we are still waiting for the ability to change user names, but yesterday, Linden Lab posted an update:
Second, we’re extremely pleased to say that in the last month we’ve made significant progress in laying the foundations for the long-awaited Name Changes feature. All of our teams have been working hard on preparing the grid and all of our systems to accommodate account name changes, both first and last. We’re not quite ready to release all the details yet, but suffice to say that if you’ve ever wanted to change up your account name for whatever reason (and we know you have!) STAY TUNED.
This new update makes it sound as if you can change either your first name, or your last name, or both!
UPDATE Oct. 3rd, 2019: Inara Pey offers more details on the timeline for name changes in SL:
■ As previously noted, Name Changes involve users being able to select any first name, and a last name via a list.
■ The capability will be Premium only.
■ Name changes will be subject to fee (still TBA) per change. The fee charged will be less for “Elite” accounts than for Premium.
■ The rough window for deployment is between 1 and 3 months, with a margin of error of around two months. There is still more work to be done on the back-end systems.
■ The actual viewer UI in which name changes are made has yet to be implemented.
■ As an aside (not mentioned in the meeting, but indicated elsewhere): new users signing-up to Second Life will still be given the default name of “Resident” – they will be able to change names should they upgrade to Premium, as with all Basic account users.
“Elite” in the work-in-progress name for a new level of super-premium Second Life account, with even more benefits and perks than those which current Premium account holders enjoy. More details to come later, but Inara adds:
Premium options: work is progressing with the new “super Premium” option, but this will not be ready until after Name Changes have been deployed. The new level is – at present – likely to be called “Elite”. It will cost more than the current Premium subscriptions.
Which raises an interesting question: will it be cheaper to change your Second Life avatar name as a Premium member, before the details of the Elite membership are announced? Or would it be better to wait to upgrade your Premium membership to Elite, and then change your name? In other words, how much cheaper will it be for Elite members to change their name than Premium members?
I can predict that this single feature alone (the ability to change your avatar name) is going to convince a lot of SL users to upgrade to a Premium account. There’s just so much pent-up demand!