The makers of "Plague Inc.," a popular video game that puts players in control of a hypothetical pathogen, are donating $250,000 toward efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak, parent company NDemic Creations said on Monday.
The donation will be split between the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the company said in a press release. Additionally, "Plague Inc." will soon feature in-game promotion directing players to donate to the response fund and unveil a new, free game mode that prompts players to halt an outbreak.
“Eight years ago, I never imagined the real world would come to resemble a game of Plague Inc. or that so many players would be using Plague Inc. to help them get through an actual pandemic,” said James Vaughan, creator of "Plague Inc." “We are proud to be able to help support the vital work of the WHO and CEPI as they work towards finding a vaccine for COVID-19.”
"Plague Inc.," which simulates the spread of a global pandemic, debuted eight years ago and has attracted more than 130 million players worldwide, according to the company. In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention posted an interview with Vaughan and praised the game developer for creating a game that raised awareness for serious global health issues.
There were more than 370,000 individual confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Monday, according to a Johns Hopkins University database. U.S. authorities have reported more than 41,700 cases and 573 deaths.
“In this unprecedented pandemic with unprecedented needs, global cooperation is more important than ever,” said Elizabeth Cousens, president and CEO of the UN Foundation. “I am so thankful to Ndemic Creations’ contribution to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Their donation will support the World Health Organization’s lifesaving work.”
"Plague Inc." experienced a surge in popularity earlier this year as coronavirus spread in China. Eventually, Chinese authorities banned the game from Apple’s domestic App Store, citing “illegal content.”