Gamers rush to play plague game amidst virus outbreak

Gamers are tempting fate, rushing to buy a game which lets players wipe out humanity with a range of gruesome diseases.

Plague Inc, first released in 2012, has hit the top of Apple's App Store in China, as well as the UK and US, the Guardian reports.

And it's also hit its highest concurrent player numbers on PC gaming platform Steam, PC Gamer reports, with twice as many people playing it as usual.

Ndemic Creations, the company behind the game, said its website has also crashed under the demand, which comes in the middle of an outbreak of a new type of coronavirus that's left dozens of people dead.

In the game, players evolve a virus, fungus, bacteria or other type of disease to try and infect - and kill off - the entire world before doctors can develop a cure. 

"Whenever there is an outbreak of disease we see an increase in players," Ndemic said in a statement, "as people seek to find out more about how diseases spread and to understand the complexities of viral outbreaks.

"We specifically designed the game to be realistic and informative, while not sensationalising serious real-world issues... However, please remember that Plague Inc is a game, not a scientific model and that the current coronavirus outbreak 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."

At least 26 people have been killed in the outbreak, which has been traced back to bats and perhaps snakes sold in food markets in Wuhan, southern China.