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|Genre(s)||Real-time strategy, simulation|
Plague Inc. is a real-time strategy simulation video game, developed and published by UK-based independent games studio Ndemic Creations. The player creates and evolves a pathogen in an effort to annihilate the human population with a deadly pandemic. The game uses an epidemic model with a complex and realistic set of variables to simulate the spread and severity of the plague. It was released on 26 May 2012 for iOS and Microsoft Windows, 4 October 2012 for Android and 2015 for Windows Phone.
Plague Inc. has been downloaded over 85 million times and was positively received by critics. It was a runner up in the IGN Game of the Year 2012 awards for 'Overall Best Strategy Game'. The game continues to have an active community and is regularly updated.
In 2017, the developer released a physical board game based on Plague Inc. titled Plague Inc.: The Board Game. In December 2018, the studio released Rebel Inc., a follow-up game with a political theme.
Plague Inc. is a strategy-simulation game in which the player indirectly 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". However, there is a time pressure to complete the game before humans, the opponent, develop a cure for the plague.
The developer has said it is "a bit like the film Contagion except you are on the other side", the film Contagion was a partial inspiration for the game according to the developer. The developer has said the game was partially inspired by Pandemic 2, a browser-based Flash game released in 2008 by Dark Realm Studios.
Plague Inc: Evolved
The remake Plague Inc: Evolved for Steam (PC, Mac and Linux) and consoles has similar gameplay to the original Plague Inc, but includes several features not present in the mobile version, such as multiplayer and a scenario creator.
The player can play as many different types of pathogens, each with its own advantages and disadvantages 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 or Brutal Mode. These include virus, fungus, parasite, prion, nano-virus, and bio-weapon. There are also special plagues, including the mind-controlling Neurax Worm, the zombie plague Necroa Virus, the "Simian Flu" from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and the vampire themed Shadow Plague.
This section needs expansion with: pre-release development. You can help by adding to it. (June 2013)
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.
In 2017, the developer released a physical board game based on Plague Inc. titled Plague Inc.: The Board Game.[b] $355,000 was raised for the board game on Kickstarter. According to developer James Vaughan, "[he] really wanted the challenge of making a physical game to go alongside the video game - especially as board games are getting increasingly popular now".
On 6 December 2018, Ndemic Creations released Rebel Inc., a follow-up game with a political theme based around the "complexities and consequences of foreign intervention and counter insurgency." In it, players must stabilize a post-war country while stopping insurgents from taking power. Though the game was originally only available on iOS, a port for Android devices was released on 11 February the following year.
On 28 February 2019, the studio announced that they would add an in-game scenario about vaccine hesitancy to the game, after a Change.org petition to do so gained over 10,000 signatures. On 24 March 2020, the studio announced that they would add a mode about stopping the coronavirus outbreak pushed people to ask the company to make said mode.
Plague Inc received "generally favorable" reviews according to review aggregator Metacritic, with an aggregated score of 80/100. Wired.com 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". It was #1 paid app for both iPhone and iPad in the U.S. for two weeks after launch. IGN said that "Killing billions has never been so fun". TouchArcade said that "Plague Inc. will snag your attention in all the right ways and keep it there". 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. 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. In March 2013, the game went on to win multiple categories of the Pocket Gamer Awards, including Overall Game of the Year. It was the 5th most downloaded paid iPhone game in the US in 2013.
Plague Inc. has been downloaded over 85 million times. It has remained at the top of the charts worldwide for five years. Overall, it was the 15th most downloaded paid iPhone game of 2012 in the United States and the 5th most downloaded paid iPhone game of 2013 in the U.S. In 2014, it was the #3 best selling iPhone game in the U.S. and the #1 best selling iPhone app in China. In 2015, it was the 7th best selling iPhone game in the U.S. In 2016, it was the 4th best selling iPhone game there.
As of May 2019, Plague Inc. has been downloaded over 120 million times, and The Board Game has sold 35 thousand copies.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020, Plague, Inc. became the top-selling app in the Chinese market, and saw increased sales and number of concurrent players on other platforms. The interest was believed to be from Chinese video gamers trying to find a way to deal with fears raised by the outbreak. Ndemic reminded players that while Plague Inc. was developed based on scientific understanding of the spread of infectious diseases, the game was not on par with any scientific model, and added links to the World Health Organization's website on their own website in response to people inquiring about the coronavirus. By February 2020, as the pandemic spread globally, Plague, Inc. had resurged to be the top paid app on the iOS app store, beating out Minecraft. In response to newfound interest in the game, Ndemic added a mode, developed in conjunction with WHO, about fighting off a pandemic from spreading, based on some of the scientific techniques and lessons learned from the coronavirus spread.
On 27 February 2020, the Chinese government forced the game to be removed from the App Store in China, with the Cyberspace Administration of China citing "illegal content" in the game though has not provided any further explanation to Ndemic. Plague, Inc. had been updated with a "Fake News" content update, which they had yet to authorize to release to China, which has been believed to be the reason behind the ban given China's stance on media that is derogatory of their state media.
Pandemic Flash game developer
Dark Realm Studios initially complained on Twitter to IGN reviewer Justin Davis about the Plague Inc. release, saying that the game was "just an attempt to cash in on Pandemic 2.5" due to similarities in gameplay between the titles. The reviewer responded with 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" Plague Inc. developer James Vaughan rejected the cash-in accusation.
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".
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention appearance
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. 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". The game itself got updated with more realistic situations following the CDC meeting as Vaughan got scientific tips regarding pathogens and transmission. The game became the number one selling app in China early during the epidemic phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Wuhan, China; the company received so many inquiries that via its Twitter account it referred its users to the CDC website for information.
Plague Inc. The Cure
On 11 November 2020, Ndemic Creations added a new game mode to the game, named "Plague Inc. The Cure" where you play against the disease, attempting to cure it. Originally released on the mobile version only, the game mode was later brought to Evolved on PC via a Downloadable content update on January 28th, 2021.
- Ported to Android by Miniclip.
- Alternatively titled Plague Inc: The Board Game.
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