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Plague Inc creator admits profiting from the pandemic was “awkward”

Mobile game Plague Inc has celebrated its tenth anniversary via a Reddit Q&A with creator James Vaughan.

Over 180 million people have played the game since its release in May 2012, with a spike following the Covid-19 outbreak.

Asked how big the uptick in players had been since the pandemic, Vaughan replied: “Interestingly, Plague Inc has always got more popular whenever people get ill, eg When Plague Inc was #1 in Japan – we saw big spikes every time there was a bad flu outbreak. When Ebola was spreading in 2015, we saw a big worldwide spike in players. When Covid first started though we saw the biggest increase in players ever – it lasted for about a month and then went back down to normal levels.

“It wasn’t just our game that had a big increase in players though – I also saw it happening to disease related films, books, TV shows and board games. People really wanted information and turned to whatever sources they could to learn more about pandemics.”

However, he also admits to feeling “awkward” at profiting from the game during such a tumultuous time.

“Awkward is putting it mildly! It felt very uncomfortable seeing all the fictional things I had put into the game playing out in real life. I want my games to do well because they are good games – not because of a serious global disaster,” said Vaughan.

“When Covid first hit (before it spread worldwide) I immediately got in touch with various medical / scientific experts I know to get their thoughts on how we could best help. In the end, we donated $250k to the WHO and CEPI and also made Plague Inc: The Cure to help people understand the complexities of stopping a pandemic.”

If you’re yet to play Plague Inc: The Cure, it was developed in 2020 and is available for free on mobile and Steam.

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