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Plague Inc. developer Ndemic Creations has pledged $250,000 to help in the fight against COVID-19.
The cash will be split between the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation's COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.
"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."
The studio has more connection than most companies to the coronavirus pandemic, having seen Plague Inc. reportedly become one of the top-selling apps in China before it was pulled from sale by the country's Cyberspace Administration.
The dev team has been forced to issue a statement reminding people that the game, while based on real-world science, isn't an accurate model for current events, and that there are more responsible ways to learn about the effects of COVID-19.
As well as donating cash to the cause, Ndemic has also begun work on a new Plague Inc. mode that will allow players to save the world from a deadly disease, rather than bringing about the end times.
Breaking down the work-in-progress project, the studio explained players will need to balance managing disease progression and boosting healthcare systems while also controlling real-world actions such as triaging, quarantining, social distancing and closing of public services.
The mode is being created with the help of experts from WHO and CEPI, and will be made available for free to all Plague Inc. players during the pandemic.