Phase 2 of Second Life’s display names feature went live shortly after phase 1 went live. Second Life surnames have now functionally ceased to exist.
Well, I suppose they sort of exist, for backwards compatibility purposes, but essentially the only surname on offer now is – the rather annoying – “Resident”, and viewers with Display Names support won’t really show you that surname.
New users now essentially sign up with a single first name – now called an ‘account name’.
That’s the name that they log in with (for any pre-Display Names viewer, they have to log in using ‘Resident’ as a surname), and that attaches to their avatar and possessions independently of their Display Name. Since that’s not what you might call ‘expected behaviour’ (if you’re expecting Second Life to behave like many MMOGs do, with regard to names), it’s probably not going to significantly reduce the amount of name-related account abandonment.
On the plus side, the last couple of days has seen a nearly 50% jump in Second Life signups, and median concurrency has risen a few percentage points in the same period. As yet, though, the change to concurrent usage isn’t anything to write home about.
It’s too early to tell if either Project Skylight or Display Names are genuinely having any positive effects on the in-world economy or on user retention.