GameStop is staying open because its products are ‘essential’ [UPDATE]

(Image credit: JJBers under CC2.0)

Breaking: Looks like GameStop wasn't ready for the attention this news drew. Stores are closing, full details below:

GameStop has told its employees that they should keep going to work and opening its stores amidst the worst virus pandemic in decades because they are “essential” to society. 

According to IGN, GameStop employees claim that shop managers and corporate executives have ordered them to keep working despite the current crisis that has led many businesses (including Apple) to close their retail stores out of safety concerns.

The publication has confirmed this policy with the company, which claims that it is “essential products” like “webcams, microphones, mice, keyboard, monitors, chargers, audio equipment, and more” to support people working from home in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The report comes after Kotaku published part of a company memo that reads as follows:

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 is able to remain open during this time.

GameStop memo re. COVID-19

According to Kotaku, the company has gone as far as providing shop managers with instructions about what to do in case the local authorities go into the store demanding it to get shut down according to any official orders. 

“We have received reports of local authorities visiting stores in an attempt to enforce closure despite our classification," reads the memo. 'Store managers are approved to provide the document linked below to law enforcement as needed.”

Following these reports, and the flurry of bad publicity the company received, GameStop sent a note to its stores saying "We are closing our stores in California," ... yes, just California, for now. Kotaku published the news, including the rest of the memo that read "The closure will remain in effect until further notice as we obtain more information from the California Governor’s Office." No word as to whether or not GameStop thinks its other stores are as essential to the public good.

It seems that, for GameStop executives, it doesn’t matter that the world is shutting down while the cases of Coronavirus skyrocket all over the place — and will keep exploding in the United States unless people practice proper social distancing and stay home. Or that the death spiral shows no signs of slowing down anywhere but China, Japan and South Korea. 

Talking to IGN, a GameStop employee said that “GameStop corporate is putting its employees at risk of COVID-19. They aren’t closing stores and they aren’t offering paid time off. They are still pushing their employees to advertise events at their stores that will draw crowds of people.” 

Since these policies first came to light, the shop has cancelled midnight launches for big titles like Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, but it will keep selling games and other non-essential items.

What is essential though, is that GameStop protects the people working at its stores. And the only way to do so is by shutting them down.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.