Three years after it was first supposed to be released, in-development space epic Star Citizen is now trying to sell digital land to hopeful space explorers.
$50 will net players a 4km x 4km plot while $100 will grab an 8km x 8km space. Each will come with a ‘Geotack Marking Beacon’ which not only allows you to find home but also tracks the weather and alerts you to any unwelcome guests.
Land will apparently be obtainable with in-game currency for those who do not want to pay out real cash. In its FAQ the developer makes it clear that buying land now offers no tangible benefit over either buying it later or waiting until you earn it in-game. Instead, it says that an early purchase will simply aid development efforts – although with an astonishing $168m of crowdfunded money already in the pot, presumably things aren’t too threadbare at the Cloud Imperium Game offices.
“Due to the billions of square kilometres of available land over many planets and moons and of course as new Star Systems are introduced and explored, all players will have the ability to find and claim new ‘hot spots’ throughout the lifetime of the game,” the FAQ says for those who are worried about missing out on the best plots by not paying out.
“Also, every player can have their own reason for what could be the ‘best’ piece of land, while some may judge a plot of land based on the type and quantity of natural resources that it contains, others might be looking for proximity to trade routes, and others could simply look for a quiet spot with a beautiful vista. This – combined with the fact that there’s an enormous amount of real estate available – means that prospecting and the purchase of land are two pieces of a supply-and-demand equation governing how rapidly land of a distinct perceived value will come on the market.”
The conflict between the game’s protracted development and its desire to sell players things has stirred up plenty of unrest in the past. However, prices keep going up and people keep buying. One ship, the 890 Jump, is currently on sale for $1,068.
In 2015 Cloud Imperium strongly denied a report claiming that it was in a financial pickle.
It must be said though that for every cry of anguish from frustrated backers there’s plenty more who delight in the promise the game shows (Motherboard said of the game last month: “The space sim Star Citizen isn't a finished game so much as it is a collection of promises and dreams held together by impressive tech demos and gameplay videos”). There’s certainly no denying that the dream is one that plenty of people remain willing to invest in.