Unlike most MMOs character names, which are unique only within their world/server, Guild Wars and Guild Wars 2 character names are unique across the entire game, so you can understand why gamers are waiting anxiously to hear ArenaNet's plans for name reservation.
"All one-word names will be up for grabs at the start of the Guild Wars 2 Headstart Access period. But there are currently 20 million two-word names in use by existing Guild Wars players," ArenaNet explained in a post. "We need a policy that allows dedicated players to hold on to their established names, while freeing up the bulk of names for the rush of Guild Wars 2 players who will come into the game at launch."
Here's how it will work:
To preserve your character name from Guild Wars into Guild Wars 2, you must be an active Guild Wars player (more on that below), and you must create a Guild Wars 2 character with the same name as your Guild Wars character during the Headstart Access period or on launch day.
After launch day (and after we work through support tickets filed on launch day), we’ll free up the millions of unclaimed names for new Guild Wars 2 players to use.
To implement this name reservation system, we need to build a list of the character names of active Guild Wars players that we’ll reserve through launch day. We actually need to build that list a few weeks prior to the launch of Guild Wars 2.
So how will ArenaNet determine active players? Guild Wars players will be considered active if they have logged into the game at least once between January 1, 2012 and the day they build the name reservation list.
ArenaNet will warn the community before they build the list, but there's really no reason to wait. If you want to reserve your character names from Guild Wars to Guild Wars 2 then simply log in to the game today.