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Star Citizen is now selling the opportunity to acquire plots of virtual land (update)

Plots will also be available with currency earned in-game

Concept art showing an explorer claiming land on an unknown world.
Cloud Imperium Games
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Star Citizen, the ambitious collection of spacefaring games from Chris Roberts and his team at Cloud Imperium Games (CIG), is now selling licenses for the right to eventually acquire land in-game.

Neither the plots of land, nor the planets that they will be on, are currently available. CIG said that land rights, which cost $50 each, will entitle the purchaser to a single four-kilometer square plot zoned for either commercial, residential or industrial use as well as an in-game item with which to make said claim. No date has been given as to when land claims can be made.

“These claim licenses are being made available for pledging to help fund Star Citizen’s development,” CIG said on its storefront page. “The ability to obtain these claim licenses will ultimately be available for in-game credits and/or otherwise earnable through play in the game. Pledging for these claim licenses now allows us to include deeper features in the Star Citizen game, and is not required for starting the game.”

In a video released late yesterday, Roberts talked about the impetus for offering land claim licenses. When the project’s persistent universe product was initially conceived — around the time of its Kickstarter campaign in November 2012 — the goal was to have multiple planets with one or more locations on each where players could land their ships and walk around. But the inclusion of planet-scale procedural generation exponentially increased the game’s landmass, creating a burden for the art and design teams.

“We’ll be able to have whole worlds — planets, moons — that you can walk all over and that are rendered out to the kind of high level of first-person detail that we are going for in Star Citizen,” Roberts said. “A planet or a moon is going to feel pretty empty if you just have one location to go and visit on it. So we’ve been very focused on what other things we could do on the planets, like building out the ecosystems, distributing resources.”

Roberts went on to discuss the potential for the creation of dangerous fauna that players may be able to hunt for sport, the presence of minerals or other resources and the ability to farm crops for trade.

“We basically want to create a lot of gameplay for the huge amount of land that’s now available,” he said. “So yes, the designers and artists are building out the major locations and even secondary towns on some of the more populated planets. But wouldn’t it be cool if we had some virgin moons or planets and players could go there and they could set up their own little homestead?”

CIG has also posted a comprehensive FAQ covering issues such as land quality, potential in-game advantages, trespassing and other edge-case scenarios.

Since its inception, the Star Citizen project has relied primarily on backers for its income. It has sold spaceships and other in-game items, many of which are not currently playable. With more than $168 million raised so far, it just so happens that it’s also the single most-funded crowdfunding campaign of any kind, on any platform, for anything. CIG has also made a series of corporate partnerships, including a recent one with Intel.

Star Citizen is currently testing the 3.0 update to its persistent universe product. It exists only as a pre-release candidate of an alpha. When it drops, it will still be an alpha, which means bugs and significant gameplay impediments should be expected. You can read more about 3.0 here. No release date for the 3.0 update, or any of the game’s various modules, has been given since October 2016.

Update: CIG is not selling actual in-game land, but the opportunity to acquire land at a later date. We have updated the story to reflect this.

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