Plague Inc., the game where the main aim is to spread a plague around the world, is feeling a little close to home right now: but it seems a change in objective is on the way, as developer Ndemic Creations is working on a new game mode where players save the world. Oh, and it's making a cool $250k (around £213k) donation towards fighting the current coronavirus outbreak.
Announced via blog post, Plague Inc. creator James Vaughan said that eight years ago, he "never imagined the world would come to resemble a game of Plague Inc. or that so many players would be using Plague Inc. to get them through an actual pandemic.
"We are proud to be able to help support the vital work of the WHO and CEPI as they work towards finding a vaccine for COVID-19."
If you're wondering exactly what those organisations are, the 250k is being split between the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (a foundation that helps finance research for vaccines), and the World Health Organisation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Anyone can donate to the latter, which is currently helping the WHO track and understand the virus, get supplies to frontline workers, and accelerate efforts to create vaccines, tests and treatments.
As for the new game mode, Ndemic Creations explained this came about after it was "repeatedly asked if we could make a game which let the player work to stop an outbreak". It's now accelerating work on a new update which allows players to save the world from a deadly pandemic.
"Players will have to balance managing disease progression and boosting healthcare systems as well as controlling real-world actions such as triaging, quarantining, social distancing and closing of public services," the blog post explained. "We are developing this game mode with the help of experts from the World Health Organisation, the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network and more."
Even better yet, the update will be free for all Plague Inc. players during the coronavirus pandemic. As of yet there's no release date for the new mode, but Ndemic Creations will share more information soon.
Recently Plague Inc. was subject to an effective ban in China after it was removed from both Steam and the iOS Store for containing "illegal content" (something the Cyberspace Administration of China did not fully explain). Before that point, it had become incredibly popular in China as the country's citizens sought to understand the outbreak, to the extent Ndemic Creations had to warn players it was "a game, not a scientific model". Outside of China, perhaps the new game mode can at least provide some comfort to players as we all wait for the outbreak to be controlled.