The simulation strategy game in which you create a deadly pandemic, Plague Inc., has recently been removed from all app stores in China for containing unspecified illegal material.
The approach of the game is simple and somewhat macabre: create a disease that is deadly and contagious enough to annihilate humanity.
Ndemic Creations, the creators of the game, have had to indicate several times that, despite being promoted as a realistic pandemic simulator, it is only a game and does not use scientific metrics.
Although Plague Inc. has been in the market for eight years, it is not until now that the Chinese government has decided to remove the app in different stores:
From Ndemic Creations:
“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 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.
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.
Nothing is changing outside of mainland China: we will continue to support and update both Plague Inc. and our newest game Rebel Inc. on all platforms whilst also working hard to try and find a way to bring Plague Inc. back to players in China.”
Although it seems easy to find the cause of why China would like to eliminate this game at this time of the coronavirus, according to the Cyberspace Administration of China, the application has content considered illegal within the nation, but the organization did not tell the developers what this content is.
Possible banning reasons
Plague Inc. is not the only pandemic simulation game, but it is the most popular, and it is also the only one that has been removed.
Thanks to rise of coronavirus, the application has become one of the most popular paid apps in the App Store, making it an easy target for the CAC.
Daniel Ahmad, a video game market analyst in China and Asia, said on his Twitter account that there are three possible reasons why the government could have eliminated the game.
Number 3 could be the most likely reason as the game recently released a 'fake news' update in the iOS version that allows people to create misinformation.
But again, that's just speculation and the CAC hasn't released an official reason just yet. pic.twitter.com/uJnpdLIGjr
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) February 27, 2020
The first is that, despite the time that the game has in the market, it does not have the appropriate license to be distributed in China because eight years ago the game didn’t need it.
Mr. Ahmad also informed that another of the possible reasons that could incite China to eliminate this game was to avoid creating panic since recently the title received an update that allows spreading “fake news” as if it were a virus, which could lead to the confusion of many players about coronavirus.
The last possible cause is that in each game of Plague Inc, viruses begin to spread from China, although this isn’t confirmed.
The Ndemic Creations team said they are doing everything possible to return the game to the Chinese market.