The developer of Plague Inc. has issued a statement reminding players that the eight-year-old simulator is "not a scientific model" as thousands of new users, many from China, turn to the game in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak.
The real-time strategy game, which tasks players with bringing about "the end of human history by evolving a deadly, global plague", has seen a surge in popularity, clocking in 15,823 concurrent players – a new concurrent record for the title – at around 2pm UK time today.
To put that in perspective, prior to the Coronavirus outbreak its concurrent peak was 4601, a record almost two years ago in April 2018.
"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 developer, Ndemic Creations, said in a statement, which was also shared on social media after the game's website went down "due to very high player numbers".
Our website is currently offline due to very high player numbers. I'm copying our statement on the coronavirus outbreak here so people can still see it.https://t.co/pA6CUS7nJI pic.twitter.com/StXP6aemDeJanuary 24, 2020
"We specifically designed the game to be realistic and informative, while not sensationalising serious real-world issues. This has been recognised by the CDC and other leading medical organisations around the world," the statement continued.
"However, please remember that Plague Inc. is a game, not a scientific model and that the Coronavirus 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."
The coronavirus has killed at least 17 people to date and infected more than 500 others, reports the BBC.
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