A deadly disease is spreading throughout the world threatening humans. Countries are trying to stop the spread by tightening up their borders as the deadly plague continues to kill; everything thrown at the pathogen fails to destroy it. While this scenario sounds as though it was ripped from the headlines, it is actually the description of a mobile video game called Plague, Inc. that asks, "Can you infect the world?"
After eight years, the Chinese finally decided that a game called Plague Inc. is illegal in the country
Just the other day, as the coronavirus continued its real-life march throughout the world, the Chinese government abruptly decided to have the title removed from the Apple App Store. Now we should point out that the game has been around for eight years and has over 130 million players. In a statement, Ndemic Creations, the developer of the game, explained that the Cyberspace Administration of China has all of a sudden decided that the game includes content that is illegal in the country.
The statement from the developer noted that Plague Inc. is "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 recognized by organizations like the CDC and we are currently working with major global health organizations to determine how we can best support their efforts to contain and control COVID-19...this situation is completely out of our control."
The developer says that it is trying to do what it can to get the game returned to the App Store in China, but it also points out that as a small studio located in the U.K., it faces David vs. Goliath odds against it. Of course, we do know how that story ended.
Developer Ndemic Creations warns that the game is not a scientific model
Outside of China, nothing has changed. The game can still be installed for iOS users from the App Store, and Android users can pick it up from the Google Play Store. Meanwhile, Ndemic is taking the spread of the coronavirus seriously and warns Plague Inc. players not to confuse the game with real life.
The developer writes, "The Coronavirus outbreak in China is deeply concerning and we’ve received a lot of questions from players and the media. Plague Inc. has been out for eight years now and whenever there is an outbreak of disease we see an increase in players, as people seek to find out more about how diseases spread and to understand the complexities of viral outbreaks. We specifically designed the game to be realistic and informative, while not sensationalizing serious real-world issues. This has been recognized by the CDC and other leading medical organizations 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."
The coronavirus has already had an effect on the mobile industry in China, as contract manufacturers like Foxconn and Wistron shut assembly lines and are now trying to slowly ramp up production. Companies along the supply chain have also been hit and retail stores were shuttered. For example, in China all 42 Apple Stores were closed. Over the last week, 29 of them have reopened with a reduced 8-hour a day schedule. Tablet sales inside the country have soared. As more people in China work out of their homes and children get their lessons streamed to them away from school, there is a real need for the device.