As an avid gamer and bargain hunter, I often get asked – why isn‘t the incredibly popular disease simulation game Plague Inc. free? This is an excellent question, especially considering the game has over 130 million players worldwide across mobile, PC and consoles.
In this guide, I‘ll leverage my expertise as a gaming enthusiast to provide detailed analysis on the reasons Plague Inc. isn‘t free, the options for getting the game at no cost, and whether it‘s worth paying for.
The Costs of Developing Plague Inc.
First, it‘s important to understand the costs that go into developing a complex simulation game like Plague Inc. The game was created by indie developer Ndemic Creations, with much of the early development done by just one person – James Vaughan.
Games like Plague Inc. require thousands of hours of development time across programming, game design, graphics, animations, sound effects, music, testing, production and marketing. Since Plague Inc.‘s initial launch in 2012, Ndemic Creations has also continuously updated the game with new content and supported it across iOS, Android, PC, Xbox and PlayStation.
Here are some of the key development costs for a game like Plague Inc:
- Programming: 2+ years of coding time across multiple developers.
- Art & Animation: Thousands of custom plague animations and visual effects.
- Sound Design: Hours of original music and sound effects.
- Writing & Research: Extensive medical research and writing for realistic diseases.
- Testing & QA: Months of testing across devices and platforms.
- Production: Project management, outsourcing, business costs.
- Marketing: PR, social media, advertising campaigns.
As you can see, a major simulation game requires a massive investment of time and resources. Even for an indie studio like Ndemic Creations, these costs quickly add up.
According to estimates, the average indie game development cost is $30,000 to $500,000+. For a multiplatform title with continuous updates like Plague Inc., the true cost likely reaches into the millions.
Ongoing Support Requires Ongoing Revenue
In addition to the initial development costs, Ndemic Creations has continued supporting Plague Inc since launch across:
- New disease types – Adds variety and replayability.
- Scenario packs – Such as The Cure, where you save humanity.
- Updates and bug fixes – Maintaining playability.
- Platform ports – Expanding to new platforms.
- Localization – Translations to new languages.
This ongoing development requires steady revenue over many years to sustain. Plague Inc.’s $0.99 mobile and $14.99 PC/console pricing provides that long-term income stream.
To illustrate, here are some key statistics on Plague Inc’s ongoing development:
- 700+ game updates over 10+ years.
- 20+ new disease types added.
- 6 major scenario packs released.
- Supported across 5+ gaming platforms.
- Translated into 30+ languages.
Without revenue from game sales, it would be incredibly difficult for a small indie studio like Ndemic Creations to maintain this level of ongoing support.
The Success of Premium Mobile Games
Plague Inc. originally launched as a paid mobile game in 2012, priced at $0.99 on iOS and Android. This premium pricing strategy for mobile games proved very successful.
The game was a breakout hit, despite having a price tag. Plague Inc. has grossed over $100M in revenue to date, mostly from mobile purchases.
Some key factors driving the success of premium mobile games like Plague Inc:
- Higher quality – Players expect more from paid games.
- No ads or microtransactions – Less distractions.
- Trust – Paid downloads seen as more legitimate.
- Apple ecosystem – iOS users more accustomed to paying.
With this proven premium mobile formula, Ndemic Creations likely hesitated to switch the pricing model and risk disrupting Plague Inc.’s momentum.
The Ethical Factor of Disease Simulation
Plague Inc. simulates the spread of deadly diseases worldwide. Players create and evolve pathogens to infect and kill humanity.
Some have argued games like this could be unethical or in poor taste. However, Plague Inc. was designed carefully with educational intent and medical realism.
Ndemic Creations has needed to thoughtfully consider ethics and social responsibility with the game. Charging a fee arguably discourages more frivolous use of the simulation.
Switching to a free-to-play model with microtransactions could increase concerns around ethical implications. Parents in particular may prefer the game having an upfront cost to download.
Limited Free Promotions
While not entirely free, Plague Inc. has run occasional free promotions and limited trials. For example:
- Free on iOS and Android during early COVID-19 pandemic.
- Free DLC packs for major awareness campaigns.
- Free weekends to try PC/console versions.
These promotions allow temporary free access while limiting long-term financial impact on Ndemic Creations. They can introduce the game to new players who may then purchase the full version.
In summary, Plague Inc. isn‘t free primarily due to the high cost of development, the need for ongoing revenue, its successful premium pricing model, ethical considerations, and limited free trial promotions.
However, for such a complex and polished game, its $0.99 to $14.99 price tag remains a worthwhile value in the gaming world. Over 130 million players globally seem to agree!
I hope this detailed guide helps explain why this fantastic disease simulation game isn‘t free. But with occasional promotions and reasonable pricing, Plague Inc. remains accessible for most gamers on a budget.