Reports have surfaced claiming that GameStop will close their stores in California during the coronavirus outbreak, but they will not be paying their staff while stores are closed.
Across our editorial series covering the work of GameStop whistleblower Camelot [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] he, alleged former, and alleged existing GameStop staff accused company of numerous illegal, fraudulent, and immoral offenses at both store and corporate level.
Based on information Camelot received, along with his own experiences, he felt GameStop would soon enter bankruptcy. He also proposed there was a “three stage plan” by corporate leaders.
This would involve doing whatever it took to increase the stock value of the company in the short-term (including closing stores and firing staff) before liquidating the company or filing for bankruptcy.
Camelot also recently posted claims by alleged staff that GameStop had lied about sending out hand sanitizer, and were attempting to abuse legal loopholes to remain open during the pandemic. This was via registering the company as an electrical company, making it “essential”.
An alleged corporate source also claimed that if GameStop closes “even for a week or two. They will have to file for Chapter 11 [bankruptcy]. So they are refusing.”
The claims were supported by a recently alleged leaked memo, which instructed store staff to hand a letter to police attempting to close stores, which in turn asked police to call GameStop’s corporate office. Alleged corporate GameStop staff claimed to Camelot that GameStop would sue anyone attempting to close them down.
GameStop also announced they would sell Doom Eternal one day early, in order to avoid spreading the virus, but keeping the release date of Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
Shortly after the alleged leaked memo, Camelot produced audio from an alleged conference call between executives of EB Games Canada (a subsidiary of GameStop) and store managers. Along with confirming they would keep stores open, they stated they would not pay employees if they chose to self-isolate, and that they were not liable if anyone got sick coming into their stores.
While they stated they would clean stores should an employee get sick, Camelot doubted this would occur, and that the store would remain open. A store manager also pointed out in the conference call that the company was being condemned on social media when they were announcing they would remain open.
This has angered many on social media, and may have even affected the company’s stock price. On Tuesday, the company’s stocks were worth $4.64 USD a share. After the first of these stories broke on March 18th, GameStop shares (as of this time of writing) are worth $3.76 USD a share.
Now, Kotaku reports that GameStop are allegedly closing all their stores in California. An alleged “note” to stores states “We are closing our stores in California. The closure will remain in effect until further notice as we obtain more information from the California Governor’s Office.” California’s local government has enacted a full lockdown to combat the outbreak.
While this may sound like a step in the right direction, Kotaku also report they had been contacted by two Californian GameStop employees. They told them (in Kotaku’s words) “that they’ve been told to use personal time or file for unemployment, as they will not be paid while stores are shut down.”
This includes the postponement and cancellation of GDC and E3 2020 respectively. At this time, Gamescom 2020 is still being prepared, with organizers monitoring local regulations and the virus’ spread.
The Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering are mapping the virus’ spread [1, 2]. As of this time of writing, there have been over 259,000 confirmed cases worldwide, and over 11,200 deaths. Over 87,000 people have made a “total recovery.” On March 11th, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak “can be categorized as a pandemic.”