GameStop reportedly told its employees in a company memo to keep stores open amidst the coronavirus crisis, claiming that they were “essential” business that needed to be kept open. In the memo, GameStop claims, “Due to the products we carry that enable and enhance our customers’ experience in working from home, we believe GameStop is classified as essential retail and therefore can remain open during this time.” One GameStop employee called the policy indefensible along with many others on social media outraged at the store’s intentions to stay open.
lol @GameStop consumers apparently disagree that you are “Essential retail”
Close your shit. https://t.co/iZ9UCOq1nA
— Joe Zieja (@JoeZieja) March 19, 2020
Well, @GameStop was already a dying brand, but this basically seals the deal. The callousness of this cannot go without condemnation.
— Kevin Hovdestad (@lackofrealism) March 19, 2020
Along with this decision, the company has been noted for not providing correct cleaning supplies to employees and even asking them to go buy supplies at other stores. They have also not extended their sick leave policy to their employees and asked them to rely on their pre-existing time off options. Only recently did the franchise decide to close their midnight launches for games such as Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal, which will be available at the store tomorrow (3/20/20). At the same time, Gamestop announced that they would be selling Doom Eternal a day early in an attempt to stop the crowds. Even with these precautions and updates, people are still seeing delays and difficulties on their games getting to them. Five employees with access to the internet instructions given by the retail showed them to Vice Games. In the defensive statement, the store says:
While GameStop is best known as a provider of gaming and home entertainment systems, we also offer a wide array of products and devices that are important to facilitate remote work, distance learning, and virtual connectivity. As millions of Americans face unprecedented challenges adapting to virtual learning, working and interaction, there is significant need for technology solutions and we are one of many providers of these products that are remaining open at this time. Schools, businesses and families are now suddenly dependent on being able to connect through technology. While there are many businesses and organizations far more critical than ours, we believe we can have a positive impact during this very challenging time. The health and safety of our employees and customers is of utmost importance and we have and will continue to take extensive precautions consistent with CDC guidelines. We are complying with all state, county, city and local ordinances and we will continue to adjust to any future developments.
The gaming store has responded to the criticism claiming that the “essential” retail quote that many have focused on in the statement, has been taken out of context. Many others pointed out that most video games are available for digital download and can help prevent people from leaving. On Thursday, GameStop announced new hours that range from noon to 8 p.m local time and rules that only allow 10 people in the store at a time (including employees) while maintaining “a 6-foot parameter between customer checkout lines”. They also suspended trade-in options and allow door pick up options.
We are working diligently during this unprecedented time to provide our customers & associates with the safest environment possible. Please see below for details on new changes we are enacting & click here for our full statement: https://t.co/qP9jDQUmjs pic.twitter.com/d99kxviz7Q
— GameStop (@GameStop) March 19, 2020
As of now, Gamestop has closed all California stores under the state’s full lockdown policy. They have made clear that they will not pay workers during this shutdown and have not addressed the status for stores in other states following their lockdowns. The order from Gov. Gavin Newsom requires all of the state’s residents to stay at home except for essential activities such as grocery shopping, work, or travel.