The team says that this is for people who might have grown out of using the username that they selected many moons ago.
Here’s what YouTube had to say about it:
Starting today we’re giving you the ability to change how you appear on YouTube, with the option to use your Google+ profile on your YouTube channel. One Google-wide identity was something that proved popular with new YouTube users when we began offering it in March, so we are now extending it to existing users.
Some people are going to enjoy the Google+ tie-in, as it will definitely make engagement a more unified experience. However, some of the magic that happens on YouTube has a lot to do with the personalities that people have created with their usernames.
Someone like Justine Ezarik could probably get away with using her main identity instead of iJustine, but “shows” that are person-agnostic will more than likely stand pat with their usernames.
If you decide to update your identity on YouTube, your Google+ profile details will show up within your channel.
You’ll also be able to click “Review my content” to decide which past activity you’d like to tie with your full name. Basically, if you’ve been a troll on YouTube all these years, you can choose not to associate your real name with those nasty comments. You’ll also be able to decide if you want particular playlists and videos tied to you as well.
This isn’t required of course, you can click “I don’t want to use my full name” and then carry on as you have been, billybob234.
I might end up doing this, but only because my usage of YouTube has changed over the years. I don’t spend a lot of time on the service itself, other than to watch an occasional video or do a few searches and playlist adds. The anonymous nature of YouTube is a blessing and a curse, as there are a ton of spam accounts doing shady things. This is one way to combat that, but since it’s opt-in, it won’t do much good in that arena.
This feature is rolling out now for US users only, and the next time you upload a video or drop a comment, you’ll get the option to change this around. A version of this for brands is coming soon, so keep an eye out for that too.