China bans creepy game called Plague Inc that lets players destroy the world with disease

China bans creepy game called Plague Inc that lets players destroy the world with disease
China bans Plague Inc on Steam and iOS App Stores in the countryScreenshot/Plague Inc/Business Insider India
  • Plague Inc is now unavailable on Steam in China after being removed from the iOS App Store last week.
  • It was the most downloaded game in the country in January, when the first instances of the coronavirus were reported.
  • China has banned the game for being "illegal".
If you ever dreamt of being an evil scientist, bringing about the zombie apocalypse or thought of giving the world a Malthusian ending — Plague Inc is a game that you have probably played at least once.

The popular mobile game that lets its players infect the world with a virus, bacteria, fungus or even a parasite. Amid its battle against the coronavirus, China banned the game from the iOS App Store since it "includes content that is illegal" on Friday. Today, the app can no longer be found on the Steam store either.

The game is massively popular with 130 million players. However, the makers of Plague Inc — Ndemic Creations — are uncertain if the ban is a result of the outbreak and working on getting the game back on the market in China. At the same time, they also point out the likelihood of that happening is bleak with the odds stacked against them.
Complimentary Tech Event
Transform talent with learning that works
Capability development is critical for businesses who want to push the envelope of innovation.Discover how business leaders are strategizing around building talent capabilities and empowering employee transformation.Know More

"This situation is completely out of our control," said the independent games studio based out of the UK.


Plague Inc infects online app stores
Plague Inc isn’t some new kid on the block that tried to take advantage of the pandemic to earn a quick buck. The app has been around for eight years and is supposed to provide an informative experience, endorsed by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about real-world issues.

China bans creepy game called Plague Inc that lets players destroy the world with disease
Plague Inc lets players destroy the world by controlling the infectiousness and severity of a pathogenScreenshot/Plague Inc/Business Insider India

Even though Plague Inc is an educational game, one can’t help but be creeped out by the sounds of little girls giggling and singing Ring Around The Roses as through stepping out of Stephen King’s The Shining. It also has audio of a child crying, a bell tolling and mosquitoes buzzing as though passing right past your ear.

"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," said Ndemic Creations.

China bans creepy game called Plague Inc that lets players destroy the world with disease
The game comes with a steady stream of news updates from countries around the world trying to tackle the outbreakScreenshot/Plague Inc/Business Insider India

There was a surge in players during the 2014 Ebola outbreak as well when the game used its platform to help gather funds to find the disease. This time around, the bump was so huge that the Ndemic website had to be taken offline "due to very high player numbers."


It was the most downloaded iPhone app in China on January 21 according to App Annie. It was also the highest-ranking strategy and simulation game worldwide on the Google Play Store and App Store during that time.

After its sudden surge in popularity, developers then had to clarify that while the game is realistic — it’s not a scientific model of how the coronavirus will unfold. "We would always recommend that players get their information directly from local and global health authorities," said Ndemic.

See also:
A cancelled conference and supply chain issues: How the coronavirus outbreak is affecting Facebook's business

The World Health Organization joined TikTok to post 'reliable' advice about the coronavirus amid a stream of memes and misinformation

Chinese researchers just confirmed that patients can transmit the coronavirus without showing symptoms. A woman passed it to 5 relatives.