Ndemic Creations today released a statement acknowledging that its popular mobile game Plague Inc. has been removed from App Stores in China.
The company says it received a notice saying that Plague Inc. "includes content that is illegal in China as determined by the Cyberspace Administration of China," but no further information on regulators' objections to the game have been shared.
It's possible and perhaps even likely that the removal is linked to the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak that originated in China, with regulators possibly concerned that a game intended to entertain is hitting a little too close to home given the severe ongoing impacts in that country.
As Ndemic Creations points out, however, Plague Inc. has been recognized by the U.S. CDC and other organizations for its educational impact that helps players understand how diseases spread.
It’s not clear to us if this removal is linked to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that China is facing. However, Plague Inc.’s educational importance has been repeatedly recognised by organisations like the CDC and we are currently working with major global health organisations to determine how we can best support their efforts to contain and control COVID-19.
We are working very hard to try and find a way to get the game back in the hands of Chinese players - we don’t want to give up on you - however, as a tiny independent games studio in the UK, the odds are stacked against us. Our immediate priority is to try and make contact with the Cyberspace Administration of China to understand their concerns and work with them to find a resolution.
Despite having been released eight years ago, Plague Inc. has seen regular updates and remains a massively popular game on the App Store, placing near the top of the paid apps chart in Apple's 2019 rankings.