After seeing an increase in their downloads of Plague Inc., developers Ndemic Creations has had the game removed from sale in China altogether.
Ndemic revealed the game’s removal in a recent blog post:
“…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 team goes on to admit that they are not 100% sure as to the reasons why the game has been removed, either:
“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. We are currently working with major global health organisations to determine how we can best support their efforts to contain and control COVID-19″.
Daniel Ahmad, a noted gaming analyst, has stepped in to give his verdict. Ahmad notes that the following three reasons could have resulted in the game’s removal:
“Speculation for why it could have been removed:
1. The game was never actually licensed to launch in China. It launched prior to that law coming into place.
2. The virus always starts in China no matter what. Might be an issue?
3. Might mislead people looking for advice?”
Does it Break the Law?
One point of the Chinese law denotes that “Anything that harms public ethics, disrupts social order or undermines social stability” is illegal. And I don’t think a game that demonises China as the birthplace of a virus that eventually spreads to the world can be seen as anything other than a disruption of social order or stability.
There’s obviously more to it than just that, but this is a brief summary of one potential affecting point.
Another contributing factor, which the Chinese government has forced into their licensing of games, is the spread of fake news. A recent update to Plague Inc. saw players able to create misinformation in-game as a way to further spread the disease.
Whatever the reason, Ndemic has taken the removal to heart and seeks to try and improve things for Chinese players:
“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”.
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