Plague Inc hits record player count due to Coronavirus, devs warn ‘not a scientific model’

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Plague Inc Evolved

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There was a wearying predictability on Friday to me booting up Steam and finding Plague Inc Evolved front and centre. Valve’s algorithms were working deliciously well, as usual. Ditto Netflix, who managed to get a timely documentary series up called ‘Pandemic’, and then proceeded to shove it in my face at every turn.

Panic breeds sales though, of that there is little doubt. Following the outbreak of Coronavirus in China, and the subsequent spread to 14 other countries, interest in deadly viral outbreaks is spiking around the globe. The addictive Plague Inc is, an uncomfortable way, well positioned to profit from this. Plague Inc became the best-selling app in China last week and it’s climbing up the Steam charts as well, hitting a peak concurrent player count over four times higher than it’s ever been before.

What’s actually really interesting is you can pinpoint specific viral outbreaks around the world based on spikes in Plague Inc: Evolved’s popularity. The previous peak player count was in August 2018, for example, which coincided with the Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, or an outbreak of avian influenza in China in October 2017.

Since the unusual surge in players, Plague Inc. developer Ndemic Creations has now felt compelled to issue a statement warning players its game does not constitute a scientific model for viral outbreaks, and that players should look toward global and local health authorities for the best information.

“The Coronavirus outbreak in China is deeply concerning and we’ve received a lot of questions from players and the media,” wrote Ndemic in a statement. 

“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 current coronavirus outbreak 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.”

For all official info on the Coronavirus, head here.