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Daily Drip

Plague, Inc. Disappears from Chinese App Stores After a Month at the Top of the Charts

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After enjoying an explosive spike in popularity following the coronavirus outbreak, the pandemic simulation game Plague, Inc. has been removed from China’s Apple and Xiaomi App Stores.

The game’s developer, Ndemic Creations, released a statement about the removal in a blog post:

“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,” the company said. “This situation is completely out of our control.”

Related:

Amidst Wuhan Coronavirus Outbreak, This App Makes a Chart-Topping Comeback

As of right now, Chinese users can no longer search for or download the game, in which players attempt to create a pathogen powerful enough to wipe out the human race. When the game is opened in China, users are greeted with the error message “Plague Inc. is no longer available, and the developer has removed this app from the App Store.”

Industry analyst Daniel Ahmad speculates that possible reasons for the removal could be a recent update which allows players to spread “fake news”, or the fact that the in-game virus must always begin in China.

Currently, Plague Inc. is still topping the paid game chart in the US app store. At the height of its popularity in China, Plague Inc. was seen as both an educational tool and a perverse way of coping with the real-life pressure brought on by the coronavirus.

On its disappearance, one Weibo user asks, “But why? This game seemed to have spread knowledge among the people.” 

Plague, Inc.’s ironic popularity mirrors the surge in streaming of movies like “Contagion” and “The Flu,” which rose to the top of charts in both the US and China.

The reasons for the game’s sudden removal are unclear. But perhaps for China, the country most deeply affected by the coronavirus, simulations are beginning to mirror real life a little too closely.

Allison Jiang
    Allison Jiang is a Baltimore-based writer interested in the intersection of art and culture. She is passionate about big dogs, social justice, and stand-up comedy, among other things.