Plague Inc. Goes Viral in China After Coronavirus Scare

Published: January 24, 2020 8:53 AM /


Plague Inc. virus cover

Ndemic Creations' Plague Inc. and Rebel Inc. have seen surges in popularity within China following the announcement of a Coronavirus outbreak.

The whole scenario kicked off with an outbreak of coronavirus, a pneumonia-like disease. More than a hundred cases were reported in the city of Wuhan in China and have amounted to a total of 575 cases to date. The vast majority of cases have been contained within China, while a handful have made their way into Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States.

The Chinese government has enacted measures to restrict travel and try to keep the virus contained, but it's a challenging task. This appears to be leading some people to turn to dark humor by playing Plague Inc. and Rebel Inc., a pair of mobile games that similarly deal with outbreaks.

Rebel Inc. map
Rebel Inc. is made by the same people who make Plague Inc. and focuses on the spread of an insurgency rather than a virus.

Plague Inc. Takes No. 1 Spot in China

Quartz reports that Plague Inc. has taken the number 1 spot on the Chinese iOS Store as of Wednesday, January 22, 2020. The data from research firm Sensor Tower shows that it had been steadily climbing from the No. 27 spot at the beginning of the year before plateauing at 15th place in mid-January.

However, recent announcements about the coronavirus outbreak have seen a jump in popularity, bringing Plague Inc. up into the Top 10 on Monday and finally securing first place yesterday, a position that it continues to hold. Rebel Inc. has seen a similar climb according to Sensor Tower's data, sitting pretty at third place.

Ndemic Creations, for their part, have released a statement about the surge in popularity:


The Coronavirus outbreak in China is deeply concerning and we’ve received a lot of questions from players and the media.

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.

You can find out more about the CDC and Plague Inc. here:

You can find out more information about Coronavirus here:

I suppose it's not all that unusual for games similar to real-world events to see a spike in popularity, especially with the perceived mismanagement of informing the public about the coronavirus scare — some are remarking that they find the game's "Fake News" scenario particularly appropriate in relation to recent events. In any case, you can find out more about these games (and where to get them) on the developer's website.

What do you think of Plague Inc. getting popular in China following the real-world coronavirus scare? 

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One of my earliest memories is playing Super Mario Bros. on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I… More about Robert N