A popular game that allows players to create the virus and spread it worldwide has been pulled from Apple’s App Store in China, its developer said, as the country struggles with a real-life epidemic. UK-based Nidemic Creations said users based in China could not download Plague Inc. on Friday following an order by Cyberspace watchdogs to remove “illegal” content.
Nidemic said it was unclear whether the decision was linked to the deadly new coronovirus outbreak, which began in central China in December.
Contagion has killed more than 2,700 people and infected about 79,000 people in mainland China.
While the number of new cases is decreasing in China, the transition to other countries is gaining momentum.
“We have a huge amount of respect for our Chinese players and are devastated that they are no longer able to reach and play Plague Inc., ”Said Nidemic.
The company said it was trying to contact the cyberspace administration “to understand their concerns and find a resolution to work with them.”
AFP calls to the government agency went unanswered. Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Plague Inc. was released in 2012 and has more than 130 million players, according to Nidemic.
Nidemic said the simulation game was previously recognized as an educational tool by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It was working with major global health organizations to determine how we could best support their efforts to regulate and control COVID-19,” the company said.
Players look like China’s Twitter Weibo Stage to criticize the decision to pull the game.
“I’ve played Plague Inc. for so long, I’m so angry! It taught us to wash our hands repeatedly and protect ourselves … Honestly, I’ve learned a lot about infectious diseases from this game, “Wrote one.
Apple has previously been accused of bending China’s censors when it does removed HKmap.live, an app used by pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong to track police.