Star Citizen has always been operating like the Wild West of gaming, and now Cloud Imperium Games has taken this a step further with the ability to buy licenses for plots of land. There’s gold in them there asteroid belts.

These so-called Land Claim Licenses are available for purchase on any UEE (United Empire of Earth) controlled land. They’ll set would-be prospects back $50 for a 4km x 4km spot, or  $100 for an 8km x 8km plot. The ‘value’ lies in the 8km² plot of course, which is four times the size and yet ‘just’ double the cost. And just why is the UEE selling all of these claim licenses? Well, the “UEE sells claim licenses for the same reasons as any government – to raise revenue to fund public benefit programs, to liberalize its economy, to spur growth and tax revenue, and to fund the military campaign against the Vanduul.” Ah, of course.

The twist is that eventually, these plots will be available to buy for in-game credits, although this is much further down the line and CIG has not confirmed the price in UEC Credits yet. The land won’t be purchasable with in-game currency until it’s actually usable for services like base building and mining, neither of which are implemented yet.

For now, though, a plot of land can be scouted out and reserved by planting a claim beacon. This logs the coordinates of the plot, which can then be taken to the UEE Planetary Development office in order to execute a claim. Claim beacons can be destroyed by other players, and indeed another player can trespass onto the land and destroy property or steal its resources. This is a criminal offence though, so the lawbreaker may run into swift trouble with the UEE forces.

Now, buying a plot of virtual land isn’t really anything new for the MMO scene. The likes of Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV let you buy plots of land and build houses, although basic versions are available for free. The only key difference really is that you can actually do something with these plots of land. Right now, any UEE land purchased in Star Citizen is useless until CIG implements actual tools for mining, building and the like. Right now a land purchase is purely speculative; its value is zero in the world. There are billions of square kilometres of land available, so it’s not as if it’s a battle to control limited resources.

On their part, CIG does admit to this. “Licenses can be bought for UEC in game and no one will be able to claim land before the mechanic is available in game for all,” explains the blurb. “People that own claim licenses now, during the anniversary sale to support development, and people that earn the money in-game to buy one will be on equal footing assuming they have enough UEC, especially as there will be millions of locations for people to explore and claim within the Universe over the lifetime of the game.”

Star Citizen continues to get odder then, and more expensive. Anybody planning to fork out for a chunk of virtual space rock? Or are you sceptical of pumping more money in? Let us know!