Plague Inc. "is a game, not a scientific model", dev warns as Coronavirus sparks spike in sales

Eight-year-old sim tops China's iOS store.

"Please remember that Plague Inc. is a game, not a scientific model and that the Coronavirus is a very real situation which is impacting a huge number of people." That's the warning from the developer of Plague Inc., which has seen downloads skyrocket - particularly in China - as players look to the game to understand how diseases spread.

The eight-year-old Plague Inc., developed by UK studio Ndemic Creations, is a real-time strategy simulation in which the player creates and evolves a pathogen in an effort to destroy the world with a deadly plague.

Mainstream media has reported on how downloads of Plague Inc., have spiked in China. The BBC said that on Wednesday 22nd January, Plague Inc. was the best-selling game on China's iOS store.

QZ.com reported users on Chinese social-media platform Weibo joked about the similarities between Plague Inc. and the real situation. "The best way to get rid of fear is to face the fear itself," wrote one user.

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But James Vaughan, creator of Plague Inc., pointed people towards local and global health authorities, and stressed: "Plague Inc. is a game, not a scientific model."

"The Coronavirus outbreak in China is deeply concerning and we've received a lot of questions from players and the media," Vaughan said.

"Plague Inc. has been out for eight years now and 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.

"We specifically designed the game to be realistic and informative, while not sensationalising serious real world issues. This has been recognised by the CDC and other leading medical organisations around the world.

"However, please remember that Plague Inc. is a game, not a scientific model and that the Coronavirus 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."

The BBC reports that globally there are more than 800 confirmed cases of the virus, which has killed 26 people in China. So far 14 people have been tested in the UK, with nine people awaiting results and five getting the all clear.

You can find out more about the CDC and Plague Inc. here.

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Wesley Yin-Poole

Wesley Yin-Poole

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Wesley is Eurogamer's deputy editor. He likes news, interviews, and more news. He also likes Street Fighter more than anyone can get him to shut up about it.

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