Second Life: the return of last names, and some notes

On Monday, April 13th, Linden Lab announced the return of Last Names to Second Life. Also known as Name Changes, the feature re-introduces the capability for (some) users to select a last name, as the blog post explains:

Back in the day, Second Life Residents were given the option at registration of selecting from a variety of pre-determined “last name” options. The use of shared “last names” helped build community among Residents who found instant kinship and bonding amidst these newfound virtual family ties shared with strangers of the same lineage. Similar to the commodity of dot-com domains, some “last names” held a special status in the community. Some were extremely rare and, in some cases, there were perceived attributes and reputations associated with certain last name offerings.

However, the capability is more about last names, as I’ll cover in a moment, but first:

The History Bit

When the capability was withdrawn in 2010, to be replaced by Display Names and leaving all new sign-up with the default (and largely invisible “last name” of “Resident”, there was widespread outcry, accompanied by requests and demands that the option for people to once more pick there last name be re-introduced.

Such was this demand, that by the end of 2011, the Lab was actually thinking of bringing the capability back, as the then-CEO, Rod “Rodvik” Humble announced on his profile feed:

Former Linden Lab CEO Rod Humble (Rodvik Linden) raising the possible return of Last Names back in December 2011)

Rod even went so far as to indicate Last Names would return in early 2012 (see Last names back in January? from 2011).

In the end, however, everything got bogged down in exactly how Last Names should be re-offered: should in be from a list again, or free form? (see: Last Names: don’t over-cook the baking). And so, in early March 2012, Rod admitted via a blog post (that is sadly no longer available, but you can read my thoughts on it in Rodvik blogs: No Last Names), that due to assorted complexities, Last Names would not be coming back.

Nevertheless, the requests / demands for the ability to select a last name persisted such that in March 2018, the Lab announced they were once again working on a way to bring last names back to Second Life ( see: Last names to return to SL and more – Linden Lab). Just how complex a task it has been to return them is perhaps made clear by the fact that it has taken two years from that initial announcement to the official re-launch in April 2020.

That said, and despite the title of the Lab’s own blog post, it’s important to remember the returning capability is about more than just last names; it’s about the ability to completely change your avatar’s account name, if you wish – last name and / or first name. This is why the project has generally been referred to as Name Changes, rather than “last names”.

As such, it comes with some important points that are (again) worth noting:

  • It is only available to Premium subscribers, who may change their first name or their last name or both their first and last name whenever they wish.
    • First names are free-form.
    • Last names are selected from a list, with the available names updated periodically.
  • Once a first name+ last name combination has been applied to an avatar account, it cannot be used by any other account (so “Josephine Bloggs” cannot use Name Change to become “Inara Pey”).
  • It is possible for you to revert back to any previously-used name assigned to your account.
  • There is a fee applicable each time the capability is used.
    • At the time of writing, the free for Premium accounts is $39.99 per change (first name or last name or both first / last) or to revert to a previous name).
    • It has been indicated that Premium Plus, once introduced, will likely have a lower fee applied for Name Changes.
    • VAT at applicable rates will be added to accounts in VAT-paying countries.
  • Name Changes is not replacing Display Names – these will remain available at no charge to all who wish to use them.
  • Name changes are not being offered as a part of the sign-up process because:
    • It is a Premium benefit.
    • The Lab has data to show that asking users to pick a name from a list was actually a sufficient enough blocker to prevent many of them completing the sign-up process.
  • If you are Premium and use the Name Change capability, then subsequently downgrade to Basic, you will retain whatever avatar / account name you have at the time you downgrade. You will not not “revert” to any past name you may have had, and you won’t be able to change you name again until such time as you re-up to Premium.
  • Name changes are made via the Second Life dashboard, and you must be logged-out of Second Life in order to make sure any Name Change you make is correctly applied to your account.
  • As it is now possible for users to change their account names, it is vital that any scripted means of recording avatar details (e.g. for the purposes of purchase redelivery, or within security systems and so on) do so by avatar key (UUID) and not avatar name.
Now you can – if you are a Premium account subscriber – change your accounts first and / or last name. See my tutorial for how


While the return of last names has long been request, whether Name Changes will be seen as fitting the bill by all users is open to debate. Money is involved (and a not trivial sum at that), so that alone will likely raise objections among those who have not followed the progress of the capability.

The fee has been intentionally set at a level where for those who are attracted to it will not use it to excess. This is because Name Changes go to the very heart of a Second Life account, and thus touch every single element of the platform – from the name you see on the screen over an avatar to things like inventory data, land information, the things and products they make and /  or sell, transactions they have made, the groups of which they are a member, and so on and so forth. As such, every name change impacts a range of services and databases which may sound “simple” in terms of field / array update – but which still have an impact.

Some might feel the left out by Name Changes being a Premium-only option, or just not worth the expense – and that’s why Display Names are remaining available.

I find myself entirely neutral on the matter. I’m fortunate enough to have an account name I’m unlikely to ever want to change, because after 13 years, it is very much a part of me. Even so, given the time taken to implement, the (albeit understandable) reason for the fee, etc., I actually cannot help wonder if Name Changes will actually generate the kind of return that will cover the 2-year cost of implementation.  But then, if those who do use it are happy to have at least some means to change their name whenever they wish – does that really matter?

Additional Links


24 thoughts on “Second Life: the return of last names, and some notes

  1. Okay, I don’t want to be Debbi Downer … no, I would hate that last name as well! haha … but WHO picked those as the last names?? Where is the person who picked them prior to 2011 when they dumped last names, a grave error on LL’s part, in my opinion. There are very few of the new names offered that are worthy of a thought. Again, my opinion. Seriously, Covfefe?!? It’s like there was no thought to this at all, someone just grabbed names out of nowhere. Where are the cool names like Wylder, Ninetails, Lyter, etc.? *sigh* I picked one, but I’m not happy with it. I guess it was asking for the moon to have last names back, let alone some good ones.

    Again, before you slam me with replies, this is MY opinion. I’m entitled to air it even if it goes against the grain.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree completely. There’s a place for the wacky and whimsical, but not everyone wants that. Where are the cool-sounding names? I guess I’ll still be using a display name.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Have to agree about the names offered, just a hodge-podge of stupidity, apart from a small number (none of which are really suitable for male avi’s IMHO). The cost is too steep for what’s actually been offered unfortunately. I understand the reasons around the high fee, I can only imagine how much went into bringing this back, and that they don’t want the system to grind to a halt with a constant slew of name changes. However, even with that taken into consideration if they are charging a premium fee, then provide us with some premium offerings/choices.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The official reason is to discourage over-use. The fact that implementing the capability has come at the expense of two years worth of work as result of SL being built on the premise that user names would never change also plays a part (and so making the shift probably more involved than just changing lines in a few databases) in that LL would like to recoup at least some of the cost of that expenditure. Which is not to say I agree with the fee being (initially?) pegged at that level, given it will be an outright deterrent for a (possibly large) proportion of those who are in a position to use it and might actually want to use it – but time will tell on that, I suppose.


      1. I’m not opposed to the fee, though I think they could have made it less. I have no issues with them recouping what this cost them. However, and I am aware of their reasons, they should never have gone to just Resident, allowing a new pool of names when needed. I have always felt like I’m part of some future regime where everyone is called “citizen” if they have earned it!


  3. I have been one of those most eager to change my name, since when I created my avatar I made a stupid choice that I have regretted ever since (“SomaGroup”). I am glad to be able to change my first name. But I find the list of last names very disappointing. They are heavy on the whimsical and wacky, with few appealing choices. I’ll use one of them, but after such a long build-up, I was hoping for something better.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I suspect that part of the “restricted” last names list is legal protection. How long would Linden go before someone chose “Donald Trump” and then proceeded to act in either a silly or griefing manner? This list appears to have been ‘vetted’ to contain no such risky names, and since my last name is over eleven years old… I think I’ll keep it.


  5. Say I changed my name. Upgraded account to Premium, chose a new name, applied it. What happens to my new name if I downgraded back to a Basic account? Will my new name be cancelled?


    1. No, it will remain your avatar name / account name – you will just not be able to change it any further unless you re-up to Premium.


    1. As per the article:

      ‘That said, and despite the title of the Lab’s own blog post, it’s important to remember the returning capability is about more than just last names; it’s about the ability to completely change your avatar’s account name, if you wish – last name and / or first name. This is why the project has generally been referred to as Name Changes, rather than “last names”.’

      My emphasis here, but account name = user name. This is also the difference between this capability and Display Names.


      1. I just got premium, it only shows first and last name in change name… I don’t want a first last name, I just want to change my username and keep my display name


        1. I think I see your confusion.

          • People who joined SL before around mid-2010, were able to create / pick a first and last name as their users name (so mine is, for example “Inara Pey”).
          • People who joined aftermid-2010 were only asked to give a user name, became their “first name”. So for example, someone entering their user name as “bob98765x” would have that name assigned as their avatar’s *first* name. Appended to that name (but not actually displayed by the viewer etc., is the “system last name” of “resident”).

          Thus, if “bob98765x” wants to change only his first name using Name Changes, he would use the Name Change form and:

          • Make sure “Change First Name” is checked
          • Enter a new first name (which will replace “bob98765x”)
          • Make sure Change Last Name is unchecked
          • Click the Review Changes button, and make sure the change is what he wants, and then either go back to make adjustments, or proceed to the payment pages.


            1. Glad I was able to help. As has been noted by others, some of the confusion could be removed if the sign-up form indicated the selected user name equates to the avatar name in-world.


Comments are closed.