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Virus Simulation Game Plague Inc Went Viral in China Before Banned

The “infamous” strategy simulation game Plague Inc gets viral again with the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic. Launched in 2012, the game attracts users with its unique and terrifying theme, yet engages players on public health topics. It’s educational, fun and infectious. 

According to Measurable AI’s datasets for transactional email receipts, the Plague Inc app saw a surge in popularity in China during the virus outbreak until February 26 when it was removed from China’s App Store. The developer published a statement saying that it was banned for “includes content that is illegal in China as determined by the Cyberspace Administration of China”. The app was still available on the Steam Store for a few days but was soon removed early this week.

Before it was banned, the game had a steep increase in Chinese players.

The following graph based on our data panel shows the sales trend of the title in China’s App Store. The app costs around RMB 6 in China on Apple’s app store and its sales peaked in January during which the outbreak was happening.

Users’ goal of this game is to infect the whole world with its disease and strategy. To help users experience the plague in hundreds of possible traits, the game offers several choices of in-app-purchase items. According to Measurable AI’s data dashboard, top grossing items include Plague Pack which costs around RMB88 (RMB73 with promotion), and RMB 50 to unlock all genes. 

Soon after the original Plague Inc disappeared in China, a copycat from Russia called “Cure for Plague” (Translated from its Chinese title) went live. With similar features as the Plague Inc, the app changes the concept of the game to be curing other than infecting. It offers a weekly subscription of RMB 98 to just unlock the ad-free version, which is quite expensive. Chinese users of Plague Inc have been furious and kept leaving 1 star reviews for this game. As of today the app is rated 2.5 on the App Store in China.

About Us

Measurable AI provides actionable consumer insights based on billions of alternative data for emerging markets. By scanning and identifying billions actual online spender’s email receipts, Measurable AI transforms them into valuable consumer insights, which updates daily right after the purchases happen.

Charlie Sheng is a serial female entrepreneur, and a dedicated communicator for technology. Charlie specialises in trends and insights for the tech industry, with MAI Insights’ real-time online consumer data panel. You can reach her at [email protected]

*The Content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information or other material as investment advice


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