Plague Inc., a highly popular iOS game from Ndemic Creations that has seen its downloads surge in recent weeks, has announced a major update that will tweak the core gameplay to allow players to work to stop the outbreak of a virus.
Traditionally, the goal in Plague Inc. is to spread an infectious virus across the world, infecting and eventually killing the entire population as an end-game goal.
The new Plague Inc. game mode will let players manage disease progression and boost healthcare systems, as well as control actions like triaging, quarantining, social distancing, and the closing of public services. The new gameplay mode is being developed with the help of experts from the World Health Organisation, the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network and more.
The new update will be available for all Plague Inc. players for free and Ndemic Creations plans to release it as soon as possible.
Along with adding a new option that will let players fight a virus instead of spread a virus, Ndemic Creations has also donated $250,000, which is being split between the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
Ndemic Creations today released a statement acknowledging that its popular mobile game Plague Inc. has been removed from App Stores in China.
The company says it received a notice saying that Plague Inc. "includes content that is illegal in China as determined by the Cyberspace Administration of China," but no further information on regulators' objections to the game have been shared.
It's possible and perhaps even likely that the removal is linked to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak that originated in China, with regulators possibly concerned that a game intended to entertain is hitting a little too close to home given the severe ongoing impacts in that country.
As Ndemic Creations points out, however, Plague Inc. has been recognized by the U.S. CDC and other organizations for its educational impact that helps players understand how diseases spread.
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.
We are working very hard to try and find a way to get the game back in the hands of Chinese players - we don’t want to give up on you - however, as a tiny independent games studio in the UK, the odds are stacked against us. Our immediate priority is to try and make contact with the Cyberspace Administration of China to understand their concerns and work with them to find a resolution.