As one of the most prominent game retailers in the country, financial hardships or no, it would usually be a big deal when GameStop breaks street date on a title. In the case of Doom Eternal, which you can buy at GameStop now a day before its official release, it's essentially a bare minimum precaution to try and keep workers and customers safe in the midst of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
GameStop announced that it would be selling Doom Eternal a day early on the evening of Wednesday, March 18, just over a day before its official release on March 20. The company specifies that Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which is also due out on March 20, will still be released on that day "to further help separate the crowds."
To ensure we adhere to CDC-recommended social distancing guidelines, we will be selling DOOM Eternal a day early on Thursday, 3/19 as a safety precaution for our customers and associates. Animal Crossing will release on Friday 3/20 to further help separate the crowds.— GameStop (@GameStop) March 19, 2020
On Tuesday, GameStop told stores that it would stop hosting nighttime release events for games for the foreseeable future, beginning with Doom and Animal Crossing, as one effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. After first advising customers that stores would regularly "clean all high-touch surfaces to kill germs," Gamestop has also instructed all its stores to simply disable all demo kiosks for the time being.
A day earlier, Kotaku published a report spotlighting cleaning supply shortages at GameStop locations, as described by employees. The alleged gaps in GameStop's health and safety response may further impact worker morale. After a year marked by corporate layoffs, store closures, and employee dissatisfaction, GameStop is hoping to right the ship, beginning next month with the appointment of former Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé and two other experienced retail executives to its board.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has created a webpage with interim guidance for businesses on adequate cleanliness and hygiene practices, but current emergency restrictions and guidance from local health and safety authorities vary state by state and city by city.
Again, for the sake of your own safety and that of others, if you have not pre-ordered Doom Eternal or Animal Crossing: New Horizons at GameStop or another retailer, consider purchasing digital copies. If there's ever been a time to stay at home and play games, it's now. May the good will and solidarity shown between the online Doom and Animal Crossing communities be motivation for us all—let's stay apart so we can all get through this crisis together.