Video game retailer GameStop has cancelled all midnight launch events for the foreseeable future - including late-night openings planned this week for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal - in response to the ongoing COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic.
In an internal memo obtained by Kotaku, the retailer told its staff "To maintain the health and safety of our guests and associates, it is best that we avoid situations where large numbers of guests are gathered indoors or standing in line." It is also stated that demo pods will no longer be active in GameStop locations and implemented a twice-hourly hand-washing rules.
GameStop has recently come under fire after a report published by Kotaku, in which several employees criticised their employer for its overall handling of the coronavirus crisis. According to the Kotaku report, the company has not been providing its store with adequate supplies of hygiene essentials such as hand sanitiser and toilet paper, leaving employees to purchase these items out of their own pocket. No easy task in the current "panic-buying" climate.
Perhaps one of the more damning testimonies in the report states that workers who feel sick and choose to self-isolate, but cannot provide doctoral evidence that they have been officially "ordered" not to work are being marked by the company as "unexcused absences". No doubt leaving employees in a position where they fear self-isolation could lead to job loss.
This is the latest in a run of difficult situations for the long-time gaming retailers, following a huge decline in sales that has resulted in store closures and job losses. While COVID-19 continues to make its impact felt throughout the industry in many forms, these worrying accounts from understandably frustrated and concerned employees only add concerns to GameStop's future.
GameStop cancels midnight releases for Animal Crossing and Doom [Kotaku]