I am well aware that it is no longer the weekend, however, this series is named Coronavirus Weekend Roundup and, by Jove, I am sticking to it. And I hope I didn’t worry anybody. The delay was totally mundane, just a simple internet outage, nothing life-threatening and certainly nothing coronavirus related. So, just to clarify, this article is a roundup of all coronavirus news within the sphere of reporting that we cover here at The Nerd Stash which took place between Sunday, March 15th and Sunday, March 22nd. The first article covered the week of Saturday, March 7th to Saturday, March 14th. Next week’s article will be returning to actually being written on the weekend and debuting on Sunday. Sorry for the delay. Here we go.
Up top, we got some good news with the nice people at Nvidia teaming up with the nice people of Folding @ Home to allow anyone with an Nvidia GPU to help in the mathematical fight against the COVID-19 virus. Steam smashed through its record for most concurrent users with 20 million on Sunday the 15th with the numbers cracking 22 million for the first time this Saturday. This was followed by another bit of bad news from the world of likable actors; it turns out that Idris Elba has contracted the disease.
Now we must begin what I have come to call the GameStop saga. For anybody not in the know, the company has been steadily losing ground over this past generation. As downloads and highspeed internet have become more and more the norm the megacorporation, known primarily for its role in the gaming community as the main chain store for physical games and trade-ins, has slowly begun to tailspin, hemorrhaging money to the inevitable march of time. This has led to some unsavory behavior on behalf of GameStop’s corporate structure over recent years, all of which can be viewed in microcosm as the company steadfastly refused to listen to employees, customers, and in some cases, even the government, who were all telling them that they should probably close their doors.
It seemed like they were going to do the right thing initially, announcing the cancellation of the midnight release events for both Animal Crossing and DOOM Eternal in addition to deciding to sell DOOM a day early so as to lessen the number of people likely to comingle in their lobbies during the simultaneous release of both massive titles. People had kind of assumed that this was in preparation to move to either a full shut down or curbside service only but a day or two later and GameStop corporate stated explicitly that they felt GameStop counted as an “essential” service and that they would stay open and operating at full capacity. Thankfully, GameStop eventually gave into the valid concerns of their employees and suspended all further trade-ins, followed by the announcement that they would be completely shutting down many of their locations with the ones that remained open moving to a “delivery at the door” method of operation.
On Monday a ton of Discord servers crashed and became completely unavailable due to the strain of so many additional users. Following the news that most major theater chains would be shutting their doors for the foreseeable future, Universal decided to start releasing its current slate of films digitally, specifically, Trolls World Tour, The Invisible Man, The Hunt, and Emma with Disney joining suit a few days later, bringing Pixar’s Onward to Disney Plus.
A variety of properties decided to take the opposite approach and postpone either production or release in the hopes that things would be better soon. The Uncharted movie, Black Widow, Critical Role, and the Sonic the Hedgehog movie all decided to take this option. GDC moved their dates to August and Square Enix, thankfully, didn’t postpone the Final Fantasy VII Remake but did warn that there might be delays in shipping for people who purchased the physical version of the game.
At this point, most of the bad news for the week was out of the way and we finally got some relief with people and companies coming out of the woodwork to try and help deal with the mounting problems coronavirus is causing, from boredom to lack of supplies and information. Shudder, the horror streaming service, started offering a free 30-day trial and Lord of the Rings Online and D&D Online made all their DLC as free as the base games until at least April 30th, while WoW started offering double XP in an attempt to help people stay inside.
On the more serious end of the spectrum, we once again saw Nvidia step up to the plate and offer free access to their superspeed analytic software to any researcher working against COVID-19 whereas Razer, the gaming computer and accessory company, committed to the fight by retrofitting their factories to start producing the much needed surgical masks. The week finished out with one last sad piece of news; the country’s largest comic book distributor, Diamond Comics, will put all shipments of product on hold for the time being.
With everything in the world seeming to be going down the tube thanks to the Coronavirus I would like to try not to end on a bummer with these things so let me point out a minor silver lining. If there is anything good that this pandemic is showing us it is that the human spirit is indomitable. People are going to keep on keeping on and even in these dark times, there will always be those that are out there trying to make something good, even if that is just a good time. From players in Fallout 76 hoarding toilet paper to make fun of the very real TP panic or my own cohorts here at The Nerd Stash trying to write thoughtful analyses on the connection between everything from Animal Crossing to the reality TV show The Circle (which is REALLY good by the way), there are always gonna be those out there who are still trying to make things ok.
Like Mister Rodgers mother famously said:
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Stay safe out there everybody. I’ll see you back here at the appropriate time next week.