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Plague Inc. skyrockets to top of Apple's paid iPhone apps as fears of coronavirus spread

Fear spreads along with coronavirus
Fear spreads along with coronavirus 07:13

A video game about the spread of a deadly plague reached the top of the charts Monday as the world grapples with the spread of coronavirus in the real world. Plague Inc., which was created in 2012 by Ndemic Creations, has seen a spike in purchases since the virus outbreak.

Plague Inc. is a simulation strategy game that involves the user creating and evolving a pathogen to destroy the human population while countering the efforts of governments to contain it.  As of Monday morning, the $0.99-game is the top paid iPhone app, beating out the likes of the hugely popular Minecraft.

Its surge in popularity comes as the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread. So far the disease has killed more than 3,000 people, a vast majority in China. 

China removed the game from sale in the country's app store last week, Ndemic Creations said. 

"We have a huge amount of respect for our Chinese players and are devastated that they are no longer able to access and play Plague Inc.," the company wrote in blog post Thursday. "It's not clear to us if this removal is linked to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that China is facing."

In January, as the outbreak was first emerging in Wuhan, China, Ndemic Creations wrote: "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." The company added, "We specifically designed the game to be realistic and informative, while not sensationalising serious real-world issues."

The game has been praised by the likes of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for being an educational way to learn how pandemics unfold. The CDC said the game creates a "compelling world that engages the public on serious public health topics." 

Following a similar trend, the 2011 movie "Contagion" has also gained newfound popularity because of the coronavirus. The film focuses on a global pandemic that starts off in China before spreading into the rest of the world.

While the number of new cases recorded daily in China has declined recently, the virus continues spreading fast in South Korea, Iran and Italy, prompting increased travel warnings and restrictions, and new cases are being reported daily in the U.S.

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