The COVID-19 or coronavirus situation continues to develop and get coverage in every space it impacts. Video games are a hot ticket right now, not only because prominent releases are hitting in April 2020, but also because of all the drama. GameStop is a particular hotbed, as the troubled retailer’s leadership struggles with the situation. This time, GameStop is making headlines by considering itself “essential” retail and advising its staff on what to do in a lockdown.
A memo, which was obtained by Kotaku and other outlets, was dispersed to GameStop staff stating that despite the possibility of statewide lockdowns, stores intend to stay open. Lockdowns, such as the one currently happening in California, demand shutdowns of everything outside of essential services. That generally includes things like grocery and pharmacy, but GameStop leadership says it counts there too.
As an added kicker, the memo includes instructions for what staff should do in the event law enforcement comes into a store to demand it shut down. There’s some scripting and a phone number; staff is instructed to have any officers call the GameStop corporate hotline. In the meantime, GameStop is taking measures to adhere to CDC guidelines, including suspending trade-ins indefinitely, and allowing no more than ten people inside a store at one time.
While it may sound silly on paper that GameStop is making this argument, there is a logic behind it. GameStop sells more than just video games, including things like A/V cables, keyboards, mice, headsets, and in some cases monitors. Since many workplaces are still operating on a work from home basis, this kind of equipment is technically essential. Stock for this sort of thing varies greatly by location and lockdowns haven’t happened a ton yet, so it’s hard to say if this argument will hold up to legal scrutiny. GameStop has been on the receiving end of some public outcry after this memo went around, and has responded explaining the logic, and modified some of its new policies per the GameStop social media feeds.
However, GameStop confirmed on March 20, 2020 that all stores will be shutting down in California. What this means for the company at large is uncertain, but it seems like GameStop and the Governor's Office of California had a productive conversation. Source: Kotaku