Hop over to the Star Citizen shop and you can pick up a plot of land for $50 right now. According to the item’s description, this UEE Land Claim License entitles you to a 4km x 4km parcel of land that has been zoned for commercial, residential, or industrial use. This all sounds exceedingly official, so what exactly can you do with that $50 of virtual land on a virtual moon in a virtual galaxy?
Firstly, you don’t get the assignment of land automatically. Instead, you’re buying a claim beacon - an item that looks like a staff with a blue light on the end. You jab this staff into the ground on any UEE planet, snap off the glowing tip (a memory module) and deliver that to a UEE Planetary Development office to lay claim to the land surrounding the staff.
If the land hasn’t already been claimed it becomes yours and the staff becomes a beacon, which, according to the blog post on land parcels, is “capable of transmitting real-time weather information and motion detection alerts to the owner, with the latter particularly useful in helping to determine if someone may be seeking to exploit your property without your permission.”
Currently, the only way to buy one of these beacons is with real cash in the store, but they will later be available for in-game currency. That doesn’t mean there’s a land grab going on with cash-rich players buying up a load of in-game land. While you can buy the beacon now, the systems and mechanics of land ownership are not yet in the game. So you’re buying a beacon that will one day let you claim land in the game.
Not every patch of land has been created equal, though, so depending on what you want to do on the land, you’ll be looking for different things. If you want to set up a trading outpost then you’ll be looking for land near busy transport routes. If you want to establish a small, rural mining operation then the worth of the plot is entirely down to the resources within the 4km x 4km region you lay claim to.
Outposts will be put together as modules that you construct in a Pioneer workshop, with different modules adding different abilities to your facility:
“The habitation module enables authorized users to respawn at that location. The armory is a small arms storage locker, intended to ensure that any defenders of the establishment have sufficient firepower on hand to repel intruders. The refining module allows ore to be deposited for separation into its component elements and later retrieved, such that the required storage space will have been greatly reduced and the profit margin enhanced. The hydroponics module fosters the growth of various types of organic materials for periodic harvesting. Additional storage modules increase the quantity of raw ore, refined materials, organic products, and supplies that may be held at the outpost at a given time. Finally, the medical module provides basic medical services and equipment, and is sufficient to cure most diseases and patch most injuries.”
Thing is, you don’t need a UEE license to build outposts, you only need it if you plan to build in UEE space. And, even then, there’s nothing stopping you from exploiting the resources of someone’s claimed land. But, the UEE license grants the landowner protection by UEE security forces, so if you are making use of someone else’s land without their permission then you might find yourself under attack from the fuzz.
However, just to be clear, many of these systems are not yet in Star Citizen. So if you go to the shop and by a land claim license you are buying an item that may one day be of use but currently doesn’t have the functionality detailed above.