Earlier this year, Plague Inc. topped the Chinese paid-for mobile games charts after the spread of the Coronavirus. Now, the Cyber Administration of China has removed the game from the iOS store in China.
Developer Ndemic Creations released a statement in response to the removed on their website. "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 developers write. "The situation is entirely out of our control."
Plague Inc, the popular simulation game where the goal is to infect everyone in the world with a deadly virus, has been removed from the iOS app store in China.- Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) February 27, 2020
The Cyber Administration of China says the game included illegal content. No other specifics.https://t.co/73dNNJlgmX pic.twitter.com/lYqQ4TASeY
But, as the thread from games industry Daniel Ahmad notes above, the timing of the ban is rather intriguing. Firstly, it should be noted that Plague Inc. topped the Chinese mobile charts in January after the Coronavirus spread to every mainland region of China, leading developer Ndemic to write a reminder that "Plague Inc. is a game, not a scientific model."
So why the sudden ban? Ahmad notes that the game recently introduced a 'Fake News' update where players could deliberately spread misinformation in an attempt to infect the world with disease. Keep in mind that this is entirely speculation, but Ahmad notes that China does ban games that deliberately feature "fake news" as a feature, pointing to the official government policy document below.
The game was operating fine before the 'fake news' update (even though it wasn't officially licensed to be distributed in China).- Daniel Ahmad (@ZhugeEX) February 27, 2020
China does ban fake news in video games, especially sensitive info around govt/officials.
See extract below from policy document we wrote- pic.twitter.com/gMFMZeborS
But, as Ndemic notes, the situation is entirely out of their control. We'll monitor the situation surrounding Plague Inc. and report back on any future developments.