Plague IncSource: Ndemic

What you need to know

  • Popular disease-simulation game Plague Inc. has been removed from Apple's Chinese App Store.
  • It is unclear whether the removal is linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Ndemic was simply told the game includes content that is illegal in China.

Popular disease-simulation game Plague Inc. has been removed from Apple's Chinese App Store, in a move possibly linked to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in China.

A statement from Ndemic read:

We have some very sad news to share with our China based players. We've just been informed that Plague Inc. "includes content that is illegal in China as determined by the Cyberspace Administration of China" and has been removed from the China App Store. This situation is completely out of our control.

Plague Inc. is a huge critical and commercial success. Eight years old and with over 130 million players, it's the #1 strategy/simulation game worldwide and has been the most popular paid game in China for many years. Plague Inc. stands out as an intelligent and sophisticated simulation that encourages players to think and learn more about serious public health issues. We have a huge amount of respect for our Chinese players and are devastated that they are no longer able to access and play Plague Inc.

It's not clear to us if this removal is linked to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that China is facing. However, Plague Inc.'s educational importance has been repeatedly recognised by organisations like the CDC and we are currently working with major global health organisations to determine how we can best support their efforts to contain and control COVID-19.

Ndemic says it's working hard to get the game back on the App Store, but that "the odds are stacked against us".

According to Ndemic, Plague Inc. always sees an increase in players whenever there is a disease outbreak. In a statement on the coronavirus outbreak last week it said:

We specifically designed the game to be realistic and informative, while not sensationalising serious real-world issues. This has been recognised by the CDC and other leading medical organisations around the world.

However, please remember that Plague Inc. is a game, not a scientific model and that the current coronavirus outbreak is a very real situation which is impacting a huge number of people. We would always recommend that players get their information directly from local and global health authorities.

Given the timing of the removal, it seems highly unlikely that the removal of Plague Inc. from the Chinese App Store amidst a massive virus outbreak in the country is just a coincidence.