Last month, while China struggled to stifle a growing, sweeping COVID-19 outbreak, popular pandemic simulator Plague Inc. benefitted from an incidental boost in sales in the country. As of a few hours ago, though, the game disappeared from China’s iOS app store for unknown reasons.
China’s health commission confirmed recently that the Wuhan coronavirus, a new pneumonia like disease, had spread to around 300 people.
This news has caused Plague Inc, a strategy game about a deadly plague that infects the world, to reach #1 on the paid iOS game chart in China. pic.twitter.com/DioBtyP2RB
— Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) January 21, 2020
Even the developers of the game can’t be totally sure as to what inspired this–in a statement on their website, Ndemic Creations explained that upon the removal, they were told that Plague Inc. includes “content that is illegal in China as determined by the Cyberspace Administration of China.” Even though we don’t know for sure why this happened, numerous potential concerns pertaining to COVID-19 seem likely. Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad speculated a few possible reasons for the ban, including that the in-game Patient Zero is always in China and that the Cyberspace Administration of China may be concerned about Plague Inc.‘s recent “fake news” update.
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
Outside of base speculation, though, we really don’t know why Plague Inc. has disappeared from the app store in China. Hopefully, Ndemic Creations can get an explanation soon, and from there, figure out a solution that lands the popular game back in the hands of Chinese fans soon.