GameStop says it’s too “essential” to shut down right now

Illustration for article titled GameStop to continue providing its essential services, no matter what local governments say

Today, in news that makes a lot more sense once you realize that Funko Pops and Kingdom Hearts keychains are about to become the only acceptable currency humanity has left: The GameStop empire—a series of corporately owned pawnshops and ThinkGeek merchandise outlets that also begrudgingly sometimes sell new video games—has dubbed itself an “essential retail” location that won’t be shutting down during the COVID-19 coronavirus panic. This is per Vice, which reports that employees at the global chain have been given fliers to hand to police officers curious as to why the stores might still be operating in communities under the effects of yet-to-be-announced lockdown orders. (Fun fact: GameStop employees have reportedly not been sent cleaning supplies to keep these still-open stores sterile, although presumably the fliers can be used to wipe some of their surfaces down.)

GameStop’s logic, apparently, is that it qualifies as an “essential” location, just like pharmacies and grocery stores, which are exempt from these prospective orders. That being said, it’s not clear what essential function the stores perform—outside of all-purpose loitering, and providing a spot for our old manager Damon to hassle us for not selling our quota of Game Informer subscriptions every month. Certainly, the game companies themselves are no longer especially dependent on America’s last big gaming retail chain, with the medium embracing digital distribution with a vigor over the last 10 years. Admittedly, this is going to be a big weekend for games, what with the release of both Doom Eternal and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. But that still seems like a tricky thing for a minimum wage employee to be forced to explain to a police officer when they come around with questions on their mind, wondering why all these people are wandering around in extremely close quarters, sweating on each other, and touching everything in sight.

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