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Mobile game Plague Inc., in which players work to spread a global outbreak of a deadly pandemic, has been removed from China’s app store amid the growing COVID-19, or coronavirus, pandemic.
The game, originally launched in 2012, had seen a recent resurgence in the country. Analytics firm Sensor Tower reports that the title has been installed approximately 2.2 million times from China’s App Store since its launch, with an estimated 200,000 (about 9 percent) of those total installs coming since January, when the virus was first gaining national media attention.
Installs of Plague Inc. on China’s App Store have gone up 106 percent in 2020 and the game was the No. 3 overall paid app on the store prior to its removal.
“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,” Ndemic Creations, the developer of Plague Inc., wrote in a blog post Thursday morning. “This situation is completely out of our control.”
Ndemic said it is “not clear to us if this removal is linked to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that China is facing,” but noted that the game’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.”
The studio said it is “working very hard to try and find a way to get the game back in the hands of Chinese players” and has contacted the Cyberspace Administration of China to get the game back up on the App Store.
Outside of China, Plague Inc. has also experienced a spike in downloads, topping the App Store’s top paid apps in the U.S. earlier this month, dethroning Minecraft, which held the position for several years. The game has seen similar spikes of interest in its eight years on the market whenever an outbreak makes headlines.
Plague Inc. remains available on the App Store and Google Play store in the U.S.
Feb. 28, 8:58 a.m. Updated with player goal to spread, not stop, outbreak in Plague Inc. game.
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