The video game industry, like many others, has been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Major gaming conventions and events have been abandoned. Video games were delayed when developers switched to a working remote setup. It’s all for good reason: these cancellations, delays, and adjustments play an important role in ensuring the safety of game creators and players.
In November, the pandemic will affect the industry’s new console season, with the launch of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. Fans will face an unusual and timely question: Is it safe to to buy PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X directly during launch?
In early November, Sony announced that it would not be selling the PlayStation 5 in retail stores on launch day, a measure to limit crowds. Sony Interactive Entertainment’s communications director Sid Shuman wrote: “Please have no plans to camp or queue up at your local retail store on launch day in hopes of finding a PS5 console to buy. “Be safe, at home and order online.” Those with in-store pick up service at local retailers will be able to do so at the “specified appointment time.[s], ”Said Sony. Likewise, Best Buy and Walmart announced Thursday that they’ll also only be selling their consoles online.
But on November 10 and 12, when the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are released respectively, the stores may still be more crowded than usual, which puts both employees and shoppers at risk. Sony’s policy could help reduce the crowds at its stores on the day of the console launch. However, some shoppers may not be discouraged, which could be a problem.
To answer the question of whether it is safe to buy new consoles in person, Polygon spoke with epidemiologists and health professionals to determine the risks of launching a crowded console. To put it bluntly, the crowds at the stores on November 10 and 12 – and of course, other days – aren’t safe for shoppers and staff.
What’s going on with the launch of the next generation console?
The PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X launch will be held in another spike in COVID-19 cases in the United States. On November 4, the United States had its first day with more than 100,000 new cases of COVID-19, and cases have been steadily increasing over the weeks.
Convergence rules, both internal and external, vary by country and state, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that direct gathering is a higher-risk activity and everyone should take place away from society and wear a mask to reduce the spread. The risk increases as the number of people increases, as does the time people get together. The rate of transmission in the community is also important to monitor – a higher incidence means a higher risk.
There’s no way to guarantee that going directly to the store is 100% safe. According to Dr. Krysia Lindan, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of San Francisco, the safest way to make sure you don’t get COVID-19 is to stay home.
That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean you can not Go to the store – just doing so increases the risk for you, your family and staff working at the store. Stores can minimize risk to ensure a safer experience for customers and employees. Store Candlestick There are policies in place to try to minimize the spread of COVID-19, but remember: minimizing risk is not the same as eliminating it.
Polygon has asked several retailers about safety plans for the console launch week. No major retailers – including Target, Walmart, or GameStop – have provided us with details. Of course, the stores will continue their standard COVID process, but they refuse to share plans for potential customer growth. However, some retailers have since opted out of selling in-store consoles – at least for a while, in hopes of keeping customer numbers low.
Presumably retailers are not expecting more crowds, though evidence is pointing: In September, people lined up dozens of people in front of local GameStop stores to pre-order PlayStation 5. , after the consoles sold out quickly on the net. And although Sony announced that PlayStation 5 sales will only be online at launch, it’s still unclear how many consumers expecting to buy one in person on November 12 will get that announcement, just after. one week announcement.
It is clear that buying the next generation console online and delivering it to your home is the safest option regarding your own personal safety. Some stores, like Target, also allow customers to shop online and use pickups at their nearest store. However, it is still unclear what protocols are applied in the delivery, which could put warehouse and shipping workers at risk.
Can I go to the store to buy an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5?
Like we mentioned before, your choice is to go to the store to purchase an Xbox Series X or PlayStation 5. You will need a risk assessment on your own terms to allow for the safest experience possible. . Some things to consider are whether you live with or in close contact with people at high risk of complications from COVID-19, such as the elderly or the immunocompromised. If so, your decision also directly puts others at risk.
If you decide to shop directly, there are a few additional things you can consider.
One thing to think about early is how different this trip might be compared to any other trip to the store in the past six months. While console launches typically bring a huge crowd over past generations, the combination of global pandemic and the ease of pre-order and online ordering mean stores can a lot less crowded than before. If you call your local store or drive right after release and aren’t too busy choosing a new dashboard – if they’re in stock – won’t be much different from a regular ride after the arrival COVID grocery . Just wear a mask, keep your distance, respect and be responsible. But as the stores get crowded, things get a bit more complicated and the risk of infection starts to soar.
The biggest concern is the possibility that groups of people congregate inside poorly ventilated stores, as this is the perfect environment for the virus to spread, health experts said. Stores must be able to control all interactions and deliveries, to allow for social disengagement. The first thing you should do before picking up your next generation console in person is to call a few local stores and see what their plans are. Are there plans for crowded stores?
If the store has a plan to gather people, the best option is for shoppers to stay outside, where the risk of spreading the virus is lower.
“I think the other thing is keeping a limited number of people in the store at a time creating a kind of system by which people can get the dashboard and they move to the next location to pay for it. it’s where you don’t have everyone. Dr. Atif Kukaswadia, who holds a PhD, said. in epidemiology.
Stores can also rely on more basic rules, like enforcing a mandatory masking policy – which experts say is efficient and easy. Every expert we’ve talked to warns against going to stores that don’t require a mask, even if you’re wearing it yourself. For example, GameStop US customers are required to wear a mask in a store, with a limited number of customers allowed to enter the store at the same time. However, GameStop employees were unable to refuse service to an undisclosed customer, according to an internal GameStop memo released in July.
Kukaswadia said: “A mask has the effect of preventing you from passing it on to others than from passing it on to you. “You’re wearing a mask to protect others and if you’re doing it, you’re doing your part to help others shop. [safely]. “
But if you were the only one wearing a mask, you can still choose, he continued [the virus] “And the likelihood remains high.” A viable solution to a problem like this that Kukaswadia suggests is simply to find the least busy store time and come back later.
“Everyone should wear a mask,” said Dr. Nancy Nielsen, Senior Associate Dean of Health Policy at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedicals at the University of Buffalo.
Regardless of the store’s policy, there are still many things to consider: For example, how is the virus spread in your area? Is it an area with a fairly low number of cases, or a high degree of spread?
“If the rate of COVID-19 infection in a person’s community is higher than 5% or increasing, then going to a crowded store is really not wise,” says Nielsen.
What is the best way to buy Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5?
While it’s still not resistant to infection, according to the experts we’ve talked to, you can get as close as possible. Picking up guests at the curb, especially when both the customer and the staff wear a mask or when the employee just puts the item in the vehicle without interacting closely with the customer, the chance of spreading COVID-19 is quite low, easy easily become the most suitable choice. To further reduce the risk, some retailers are fixing appointment times for those who come to pick up their consoles this way. Best Buy customers have begun to receive emails to schedule appointments to pick up their pre-orders in stores. Other retailers will likely have similar systems; on Twitter, Target wrote that neither the Xbox Series X nor the PlayStation 5 will be available for walk-in customers.
“[Curbside pickup is] Dr. Kukaswadia said the closest thing you can get is home delivery. “It’s super convenient, super easy. You are not interacting with people you will interact with in the store. “
He continued: “What we know about [COVID-19] – and this can change – it’s not something that really stays on the surface for long. So you can, if you want to be really safe, take it home and take the box out and leave it on the table for a few hours, or take it out and Lysol wipe its sides to be 100% sure. . It might be overkill, but, in terms of COVID, I feel that the overkill is worth it. ”
As for store options, there isn’t anything that makes you 100% safe, but your best option is to go to a store when it’s least crowded. On the other hand, this means having to wait a few days to get one of the new consoles until the lines have stopped working. Finally, Amazon emailed customers who pre-ordered new consoles to let them know they might not arrive on launch day and most stores may have a limited supply of consoles to customers. no pre-order item. Your safest option might be to just wait a few days when the hype about launch dates has subsided.