Video game Plague Inc. received a massive boost in popularity after news of the coronavirus in China became a worldwide affair. As a result, the game's developer Ndemic has released a statement urging players to get their coronavirus information from official sources. The game, which started on the tabletop platform, asks players to start a worldwide pandemic so it can infect and destroy all of humanity. In doing so, gamers have gained a lot of valuable knowledge about how diseases spread.

With that being said, Ndemic doesn't want Plague Inc. to be a gamer's number one source of information, especially when it comes to the possibly-fatal coronavirus. The developer has noticed spikes in popularity whenever there is a new disease outbreak, but the latest from China may be their biggest thus far. Ndemic had this to say in a statement warning players.

"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 sensationalizing serious real-world issues. This has been recognized by the CDC and other leading medical organizations 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."

Since news of the coronavirus started to make headlines, Plague Inc.'s daily average video game player numbers on gaming platform Steam jumped over 148% to 1,672 in just 30 days. The game's average player numbers are generally under 1,000 at any given time. However, the numbers get even crazier when looking at the new average peak of players interacting at once, which reached 17,889. This is a new record, especially considering that the previous highest number of daily average players at once was 4,601.

Plague Inc. is currently at the top of various app stores and is available as both a video game and as a board game. James Vaughan created the original version of the game eight years ago for fun in his spare time. Part of the fun for Vaughan was to try and make the game as realistic as possible, which is one reason why its popularity quickly soared amongst even casual gamers. Vaughan was invited to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013 to speak about how his game could go on to help serve the public.

The coronavirus is a top news story at the moment as the disease, which originated in China starts to spread worldwide. Coronaviruses are common in many different species of animals, including camels and bats. Rarely, these coronaviruses can evolve and infect humans and then spread between humans, according to the CDC. Human coronaviruses are also common throughout the world and there are currently seven different versions that are studied. Investigations are currently ongoing to learn about the latest strain that has found its way from China to the United States and parts of Europe. For official information, please visit the CDC site and don't rely on Plague Inc. for coronavirus info.

Kevin Burwick at Movieweb
Kevin Burwick