With the Coronavirus spreading across America, a variety of stores have shut their doors and taken measures, some government-mandated, to protect their employees and customers. However, despite limiting the number of customers in a store at a time and canceling midnight release events for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal, employees fear that the company's current anti-viral measures aren't enough.
A lack of supplies arriving at Gamestop locations
Last week, Gamestop sent out an email ensuring its customers that it's taking the necessary precautions to protect customers and employees. Their main strategies for protecting people, according to the email, involves providing cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer to their ~5,700 retail stores. According to various sources, including an internal memo obtained by Kotaku, the company wasn't prepared for how many cleaning supplies they'd need and how few would be available. Ironically while they weren't able to secure more hand sanitizer they were able to send more hand soap, which the CDC has been recommending instead of using hand sanitizer.
Packages of cleaning supplies and other necessities were supposed to be shipped to their stores, but the seller was unable to fulfill the order and stores were told to expect a shipment on hand sanitizer in "several weeks". Because of this, retail management had to go looking for it themselves, often unsuccessfully due to the current shortages. These shortages make many other cleaning policies, such as wiping off demo displays difficult or impossible to follow. While the stores are still open currently it is noted that any employee if sick with either the Coronavirus or are experiencing symptoms that could be related have been advised to stay home for safety. These employees will be forced to use their sick days, a luxury that not all of them would have.
Midnight release cancellation spell Doom for Animal Crossing fans
One of the company's more well-advised steps is canceling the midnight release of games for fear of large congregations. The games most immediately subjected to this are Animal Crossing and Doom. Both of these games, slated to release this Friday on the 20th, are some of this month's biggest releases. Their joint releases were set to bring dozens of customers at a time into Gamestop's small stores. With such a packed environment, it would be easy for the Coronavirus to spread from any customer. This would go against current Government recommendations of no more than 10 people together at the same time. Meanwhile, some foreign retailers, such as Dutch company Game Mania, are taking a different approach. Instead of canceling a midnight release, they're selling copies of these two major release early so they can close down their stores.
Further questionable decisions from Gamestop
Supply shortages aren't the only problems facing Gamestop's anti-Coronavirus efforts. A Gamestop employee that we spoke to said as of earlier this afternoon were told to "stanchion off the store so people can stay 3ft apart while in line. Some stores were told to put tape in places to mark the "safety gap". While this might seem like another step in the right direction this distance, according to the CDC, isn't enough to keep the virus from spreading. Another Gamestop employee told VICE that in two different conference calls they were told to "think about the longevity of the business" and that stores would close for good if they closed for health reasons, effectively guilt-tripping employees into working. A third, who works as a district manager, said on Reddit that in a recent regional call, they were more focused on tech trades and "taking advantage" of the situation. They add:
They will not shut down a store if they can avoid it. Even if an associate has come down with the virus, which has happened by the way. They expect associates from another location to come in, clean the location and re-open. This is mind-boggling.
Plenty has been said about Gamestop's troubles, some of which are caused by the company's upper management. Even with Reggie Fils-Amié on the company's board of directors, it's entirely possible the Coronavirus could be what breaks the company. An unnamed employee offered a plea to customers to buy their game online, as the risk of catching the Coronavirus isn't worth a physical copy of Animal Crossing or Doom. "Every sale during this time is just more reason for our greedy corporation to remain open and risk even more people to become carriers of the virus," they add. "Don't risk yours, mine, or my family's life. Anyone can be a carrier and not know it."
At this time it's likely that Gamestop's around the country will remain open, yet with some limited operations. As pressure continues to mount from government agencies, managers, and associates we'll see how much longer this lasts.
What are your plans for the Doom and Animal Crossing release? Are you forgoing the games or Gamestop to get them through other avenues? Are you taking precautions when you go to pick up your pre-order?