We round up here recent events in the hobby games business in the unfolding Coronavirus Crisis of 2020.
Wizards of the Coast has offered support for retailers that do not already have online community hubs by offering assistance in setting up a Discord server for that purposes. The company also announced that it would be holding online Friday Night Magic events on Magic: The Gathering Arena
and letting stores give out rewards through their online communities for the next three weekends. WotC acknowledged the importance of the communities in hobby game stores in the announcement. "It is crucial that Magic’s social infrastructure, the WPN, remain sound through this crisis," WotC wrote. "We will do everything we can to see that it does."
As of Sunday, GameStop has closed its thousands of U.S. stores to customers and will now process orders only via e-commerce delivery, and curbside pick-up at some stores. The move comes after the company made a play to remain open under lockdown orders as an "essential" business (see "Are Game and Comic Stores ‘Essential’ Businesses?
"), which lasted only a couple of days. After an outcry from some employees that did not feel safe interacting with customers, employees in stores offering pick-up have now been told they do not have to work if they do not feel comfortable, according to the announcement. Employees will be given two weeks of pay based on the previous 10 weeks, and be reimbursed for the employee portion of benefit expenses.
The Game Manufacturers Association has created a resource page
with information on government programs, a list of publishers offering retailer support programs, and a report on projects in progress to develop additional support, including a retailor locator tool, a retailers best practices document, and a webinar at which responses to the crisis will be discussed.
Dan Yarrington’s game publisher Tabletop Tycoon has announced that it will not attend Origins Game Fair due to concerns over the coronavirus risks; it wasn’t clear from the announcement whether the company planned to exhibit. Last week, GAMA announced that for now it is proceeding with plans for the event, to be held June 17-21, and will make a final decision on whether to go forward by May 1 (see "Origins Decision Deferred