Plague Inc.

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Plague Inc.
Plague Inc. app icon.png
Developer(s) Ndemic Creations
Publisher(s) Ndemic Creations
Platform(s) iOS, Android, Windows Phone
Release date(s) iOS
May 26, 2012
October 4, 2012
Windows Phone
May 13, 2015
Genre(s) Strategy, simulation
Mode(s) Single-player

Plague Inc. is an iOS, Android and Windows Phone strategy video game, developed by one-man developer Ndemic Creations. The player creates and evolves a pathogen in an effort to destroy the world with a deadly plague. The game uses an epidemic model with a complex and realistic set of variables to simulate the spread and severity of the plague.

The PC and Xbox One version is entitled Plague Inc: Evolved, which includes adjustments and additions to the gameplay.

It has been downloaded over 25 million times[1][2] and was a runner up in the IGN Game of the Year 2012 awards for 'Overall Best Strategy Game'.[3] Overall, it was the 15th most downloaded paid iPhone game of 2012 in the U.S.[4] and the 5th most downloaded paid iPhone game of 2013 in the U.S.[5] In February 2014, Ndemic Creations released Plague Inc: Evolved, for PC, Mac and Linux onto Steam.[6] The game continues to have an active community and is regularly updated.


Loading screen of Plague Inc.

Plague Inc. is a strategy-simulation game in which the player controls a plague which has infected patient zero. The player can choose between various game-modes and pathogens and complete the objective set by the game-mode by evolving the plague and adapting to various environments. The objectives include, but are not limited to: Infecting and killing the world's population with a pathogen, enslaving the world's population with the "Neurax Worm" or converting the world's population into zombies with the "Necroa Virus".[7] However, there is a time pressure to complete the game before humans, the opponent, develop a cure for the plague.[8]

The developer has said it is "a bit like the film Contagion except you are on the other side".[9] The game was inspired by Pandemic 2, a browser-based Flash game released in 2008 by Dark Realm Studios.[10]

Disease types[edit]

The player can play as many different types of pathogens, each with its own perks which influence evolution decisions. Initially, the player may only select bacteria. Subsequent pathogens are unlocked by winning the game with the previous one on Normal Mode.

Pathogens, in unlock order, with the in-game description:

  • Bacteria - Most common cause of Plague. Unlimited Potential
  • Virus - A rapidly mutating pathogen which is extremely hard to control
  • Fungus - Fungal Spores struggle to travel long distances without special effort
  • Parasite - Parasitic lifestyle prevents DNA alteration from everyday infection
  • Prion - Slow, subtle and extremely complex pathogen hidden inside the brain
  • Nano-Virus - Out of control, microscopic machine with a built in kill switch
  • Bio-Weapon - Exceptionally lethal pathogen that kills everything it touches
  • Neurax Worm - Manipulative organism that burrows into the brain
  • Necroa Virus - Necroa Virus is unclassified. Early analysis suggests extreme regenerative abilities
  • Simian Flu - Genetically modified. Increases ape intelligence but untested on humans...


In July 2014, Ndemic Creations partnered with 20th Century Fox on an update themed as a tie-in to the film Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Players cultivate the film's "Simian Flu" virus, which kills humans while making apes more intelligent. Players spread the virus to eradicate humans while helping apes survive and advance.[11]


Since the launch on May 26, 2012, a number of updates (called 'Mutations' by the developer) have been released:

  • 1.0 (May 2012)- Original version of the game.
  • 1.1 (June 2012) - added iPad support - making game universal[12]
  • 1.2 (June 2012) - added Accelerated Unlock (IAP) & iCloud support[13]
  • 1.3 (August 2012) - added Neurax Worm plague type[14]
  • 1.4 (October 2012) - added genetic modification ability[15]
  • 1.5 (February 2013) - added Necroa Virus plague type[16]
  • 1.6 (July 2013) - added Speed Runs and official CDC content[17]
  • 1.7 (November 2013) - added Scenarios including real life diseases and altered world states[18]
  • 1.8 (April 2014) - added Mega Brutal difficulty, 4 new scenarios and 3 new cheats[19]
  • 1.9 (July 2014) - added the Simian Flu, a Dawn of the Planet of the Apes-themed update.[11]
  • 1.10 (December 2014) - added Santa's Little Helper scenario and one other, harder AI and a completion menu. More achievements and bug fixes.
  • 1.11 (December 2015) - added Plague School tutorial, Double Strain cheat, improved government AI on higher difficulties, teaser for new disease type.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appearance[edit]

In March 2013, James Vaughan, the developer of Plague Inc., was invited to talk at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about Plague Inc.[20] He spoke about how he had modeled the spread of infectious disease inside the game as well as how games like Plague Inc. can be used to inform and educate the public.

Following the talk, the CDC said that it was interested in Plague Inc. as "it uses a non-traditional route to raise public awareness on epidemiology, disease transmission, and diseases/pandemic information. The game creates a compelling world that engages the public on serious public health topics".[21]

In Plague Inc[edit]

In the game the CDC gives updates on their version of a news banner and some achievements such as "Patient Who", which involves the CDC hunting the patient zero.[citation needed]


Critical Reception[edit] cited Plague Inc. as a notable independent developer success story as it "bucked the system by staying near the top of the charts in numerous countries for the entirety of its existence, pulling in millions in revenue while competing with the big players".[1] It was #1 paid app for both iPhone and iPad in the U.S. for two weeks after launch.[22] IGN said that "Killing billions has never been so fun".[23] Toucharcade said that "Plague Inc. will snag your attention in all the right ways and keep it there"[24] In December 2012, Plague Inc. was one of five games nominated for Best Strategy Game in IGN's Game of the Year 2012, both for mobile and for all platforms. It also won the 'Players Choice' award for best Mobile Strategy Game of 2012.[3] Overall, Plague Inc. was the 15th most downloaded paid iPhone game of 2012 in the U.S. (and 18th on iPad). It was also the 76th highest grossing game of 2012.[4] In March 2013, the game went on to win multiple categories of the Pocket Gamer Awards, including Overall Game of the Year.[25] It was the 5th most downloaded paid iPhone game in the US in 2013.[5]

Pandemic 2 developer[edit]

Dark Realm Studios initially complained on Twitter with IGN reviewer Justin Davis about the Plague Inc. release, saying that the game was "just an attempt to cash in on Pandemic 2.5" because of similarities in gameplay between the titles; the reviewer, though, wrote an article defending Plague Inc. and saying "there’s no denying that it bears a close resemblance to Pandemic, but there is also no denying that it improves on that basic disease-spreading premise"[26] Plague Inc. developer James Vaughan also rejected the cash-in accusation.[27] In 2013, Dark Realm Studios said they did not consider Plague Inc. to be a clone and they "regard the situation as a learning opportunity".[28]


  1. ^ a b "How to Get Rich Simulating the Deaths of Billions of People". WIRED. 
  2. ^ Colin Campbell. "Plague Inc. headed to Windows PC". Polygon. 
  3. ^ a b "Best Overall Strategy Game". IGN. 
  4. ^ a b Best of 2012 - Apple
  5. ^ a b Best of 2013 - Apple
  6. ^ "Plague Inc: Evolved hits Steam Early Access tomorrow". Retrieved February 22, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Plague Inc app review". 
  8. ^ "Plague Inc. app review". 
  9. ^ "Ed Tech Crew 211 - Interview with James Vaughan creator of Plague Inc". 
  10. ^ "Cloning vs. Evolution: Pandemic mutates into Plague Inc. - Hookshot Inc.". 
  11. ^ a b Watts, Steve (July 2, 2014). "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Virus Added to Plague Inc". IGN. Retrieved August 21, 2014. 
  12. ^ Mutation Alert! Plague Inc. 1.1 Update live - Ndemic Creations
  13. ^ "Plague Inc. Mutation Update 1.2 Will Add More Disease Combos, iCloud Support". 
  14. ^ "'Plague Inc' Set to Get Brain-burrowing Worm Plague and Much More in Next Update - Touch Arcade". 
  15. ^ "Latest 'Plague Inc' Update Adds Genetic Mutations". Touch Arcade. 
  16. ^ "'Plague Inc' Necroa Virus Update Now Available - Touch Arcade". 
  17. ^ "New Update To 'Plague Inc.' Will Add Speed Run Mode, Also CDC Content - Touch Arcade". 
  18. ^ "Upcoming 'Plague Inc.' Update Adds Disease Scenarios". Touch Arcade. 
  19. ^ 'Mega' Mutation 1.8 goes live! - Ndemic Creations
  20. ^ Jacob Kastrenakes. "'Plague Inc.' game creator to speak at the CDC about public health". The Verge. Vox Media. 
  21. ^ "Plague Inc.". 
  22. ^ Danny Cowan. "Gamasutra - Top iPhone game apps: Plague Inc, Catapult King head up paid charts". 
  23. ^ "Plague Inc. Review". IGN. 
  24. ^ "Plague Inc Review - Touch Arcade". 
  25. ^ "Pocket Gamer Awards 2013". 
  26. ^ "How Copycats Built the Video Game Industry". IGN. 
  27. ^ "Plague Inc. Creator Rejects Accusation Of Being Pandemic 2.5 Clone". 
  28. ^ Leigh Alexander. "Gamasutra - How Plague, Inc topped the mobile market". 

External links[edit]