Ndemic Creations have announced that Plague Inc. has been removed from Chinese mobile stores over “content that is illegal in China.”
Speaking on their official website, the developers stated that the Cyberspace Administration of China” has removed the game from the Chinese App Store for including “content that is illegal in China.”
Ndemic Creations stated it was not clear to them 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.”
In fact, Ndemic Creations released a prior statement at the beginning of the outbreak, stating that “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.”
While they stated the game was realistic, informative, and recognized by the CDC; players should remember that it is a game. “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.”
Returning to the original statement, Ndemic Creations also stated they were “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.” Though they admitted “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.”
It should be noted that on the App Store for the game in the US (and Steam store for Plague Inc: Evolved), one of the promotional images show the disease centered around and most prolific in China. Other screenshots show the disease evenly spread across the globe, or menus to develop the disease further.
It could be that screenshots like this (if in the Chinese version of the App Store) could have caused the game to be removed, or purely the game’s content and premise.
The coronavirus (also known as COVID-19) has affected many businesses in China, including Google, Apple, Facebook, and more. It has also hindered businesses in Japan and the US, including those centered around anime and video games [1, 2, 3, 4].
The Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, who are mapping the virus’ spread [1, 2]. As of this time of writing, there have been over 82,500 confirmed cases worldwide, and over 2,800 deaths. Over 33,000 people have had a “total recovery.”
In China, there have been over 78,400 cases, over 2,700 deaths (over 2,600 of those in the Hubei province), and over 32,800 total recoveries.
Plague Inc. is available on Android, and iOS. Plague Inc: Evolved is available on Windows PC (via Steam), Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.
Image: Plague Inc. (via App Store)