Plague Inc.

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Plague Inc.
Plague Inc. app icon.png
Developer(s)Ndemic Creations[a]
  • WW: 26 May 2012
  • WW: 4 October 2012
Windows Phone
  • WW: 13 May 2015
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 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 Steam (PC, Mac and Linux) and console version is entitled Plague Inc: Evolved, which includes adjustments and additions to the gameplay.[1]

It has been downloaded over 85 million times[2][3] and was a runner up in the IGN Game of the Year 2012 awards for 'Overall Best Strategy Game'.[4] Overall, it was the 15th most downloaded paid iPhone game of 2012 in the U.S.[5] and the 5th most downloaded paid iPhone game of 2013 in the U.S.[6] 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. called Plague Inc: The Board Game.[7] $355,000 was raised for the board game on Kickstarter.[8]


Loading screen of Plague Inc.

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".[9] However, there is a time pressure to complete the game before humans, the opponent, develop a cure for the plague.[10]

The developer has said it is "a bit like the film Contagion except you are on the other side".[11] The developer has said the game was inspired by Pandemic 2, a browser-based Flash game released in 2008 by Dark Realm Studios.[12]

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 or Brutal Mode. These include virus, fungus, parasite, prion, nano-virus, and bio-weapon. There are also special plagues such as 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.


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.[13]

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.[14] 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".[15]


Aggregate score
Review scores
TouchArcade4/5 stars[18]

Critical reception[edit]

Plague Inc received "generally favorable" reviews according to review aggregator Metacritic, with an aggregated score of 80/100.[16] 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".[2] It was #1 paid app for both iPhone and iPad in the U.S. for two weeks after launch.[19] IGN said that "Killing billions has never been so fun".[17] TouchArcade said that "Plague Inc. will snag your attention in all the right ways and keep it there".[18] 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.[4] 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.[5] In March 2013, the game went on to win multiple categories of the Pocket Gamer Awards, including Overall Game of the Year.[20] It was the 5th most downloaded paid iPhone game in the US in 2013.[6]

Plague Inc. has remained at the top of the charts worldwide for 5 years. In 2014, it was the #3 best selling iPhone game in the US and the #1 best selling iPhone app in China.[21] In 2015, it was the 7th best selling iPhone game in the US.[22] In 2016, it was the 4th best selling iPhone game in the US.[23]

Pandemic 2 developer[edit]

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"[24] Plague Inc. developer James Vaughan also rejected the cash-in accusation.[25]

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".[26]


  1. ^ Ported to Android by Miniclip.


  1. ^ "Plague Inc: Evolved hits Steam Early Access tomorrow". Retrieved 22 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b "How to Get Rich Simulating the Deaths of Billions of People". WIRED.
  3. ^ Campbell, Colin. "Plague Inc. headed to Windows PC". Polygon.
  4. ^ a b "Best Overall Strategy Game". IGN.
  5. ^ a b Best of 2012 - Apple
  6. ^ a b Best of 2013 - Apple
  7. ^ "Plague Inc.: The Board Game". BoardGameGeek. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  8. ^ "Plague Inc: The Board Game". Kickstarter. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  9. ^ "Plague Inc app review".
  10. ^ "Plague Inc. app review".
  11. ^ "Ed Tech Crew 211 - Interview with James Vaughan creator of Plague Inc". Archived from the original on 21 September 2012.
  12. ^ "Cloning vs. Evolution: Pandemic mutates into Plague Inc. - Hookshot Inc". Archived from the original on 2016-08-20.
  13. ^ Watts, Steve (2 July 2014). "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Virus Added to Plague Inc". IGN. Retrieved 21 August 2014.
  14. ^ Kastrenakes, Jacob. "'Plague Inc.' game creator to speak at the CDC about public health". The Verge. Vox Media.
  15. ^ "Plague Inc".
  16. ^ a b "Plague Inc. for iPhone/iPad Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  17. ^ a b Davis, Justin (30 May 2012). "Plague Inc. Review". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  18. ^ a b Khaw, Cassandra (5 June 2012). "'Plague Inc' Review – Rid the World of Those Pesky Humans". TouchArcade. Retrieved 23 June 2018.
  19. ^ Cowan, Danny. "Gamasutra - Top iPhone game apps: Plague Inc, Catapult King head up paid charts".
  20. ^ "Pocket Gamer Awards 2013".
  21. ^ "Plague Inc's 2014 Report Card - Best Year Yet with 45 Million Infected! - Ndemic Creations". Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  22. ^ "Plague Inc's 2014 Report Card - Best Year Yet with 45 Million Infected! - Ndemic Creations". Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  23. ^ "These Are the Most Popular iPhone Apps of 2016". Time. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  24. ^ "How Copycats Built the Video Game Industry". IGN.
  25. ^ "Plague Inc. Creator Rejects Accusation Of Being Pandemic 2.5 Clone".
  26. ^ Alexander, Leigh. "Gamasutra - How Plague, Inc topped the mobile market".

External links[edit]