by Rich Duprey via The Motley Fool

GameStop (NYSE:GME) business was hurting even before the COVID-19 outbreak, so a pandemic bursting on the scene that closed all nonessential retail should have brought it to its knees, if not killed it off.

While the conventional wisdom says the migration of video game play to digital and downloads has the retailer biding its time until the console upgrade cycle kicks in, a new report suggests that not only has the coronavirus not done in GameStop, it may have actually taught it how to thrive in this new economy.

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Nothing to do but kick back and play

With schools closed, businesses shuttered, and everyone on lockdown and in self-isolation, video game sales and gameplay are soaring.

Spending on hardware, software, and accessories had been in decline as people waited for the newest consoles and the games to go with them: Sales fell 26% and 29%, respectively, in January and February. But NPD Group says they reversed course in March.

As COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and people practiced social distancing, hardware sales surged 63% for the month compared to a year ago while software jumped 34%. Accessories rose 12% year over year.

The report said it was “the highest reported spend for a March month since the $1.8 billion achieved in March 2008.”

Switching up expectations

All three console makers saw strong growth in the first quarter, with hardware sales exploding to $461 million in March alone and the Nintendo (OTC:NTDOY) Switch, a hybrid portable game console, being the biggest winner, setting a record for hardware unit sales that more than doubled from a year ago.

Even Microsoft‘s Xbox One and Sony‘s Playstation 4 grew by 25%.

GameStop became the big beneficiary, particularly because the Switch was not readily available on other platforms, though even it ran into supply problems.

And the hottest game was Animal Crossing: New Horizons, which was available only on the Switch, beating out Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, which is available on multiple platforms.

The destination location online

While GameStop initially tried to say its stores were essential and kept them open, it needn’t have risked the ire of its employees, the public, or politicians, as online sales through the video game retailer’s website soared 1,500% between March 1 and April 10, according to data from Earnest Research.

So strong were GameStop’s sales that it was able to handily surpass all other electronics retailers, including AppleBest Buy, and Newegg.

It turns out that GameStop’s history as the go-to retail store for hardware and video games still translates well with consumers when they’re forced to look online.

GameStop needs to build on that reputation in the future, and the coronavirus pandemic may have provided the blueprint for it to do so.

Building on the momentum

It’s probably too soon to say GameStop is out of the woods and that after the upgrade cycle completes it won’t just revert to form.

Yet the video game retailer is under pressure from activist investors who are pushing a comprehensive series of changes that could help move GameStop away from being primarily a physical retailer and more toward digital game sales.

Such sales will only continue to grow, so GameStop needs to go where its business is heading. It got a major assist from a terrible illness and it would be a shame to waste the chance it has been given. Now GameStop needs to show it has learned this important lesson.

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by Sabrina Rojas Weiss via SheKnows

How are all my fellow WFH parents doing today? Taking care of kids at home while working is just a walk in the part, isn’t it? We should probably all get second jobs just to fill our time when we’re not learning how to bake bread. Naturally, this dad who went on Reddit to complain about his wife nagging him to do the laundry when he really wants — nay, deserves — to play video games absolutely has our support, doesn’t he?

Kidding, in case your mind-numbing exhaustion has eliminated your ability to read sarcasm. We’re so amazed at the boldness of this man-child daring to ask if he’s the asshole in this scenario. While his wife works full-time from home and also takes care of their two children following stay-at-home orders, he works out of the home and says he is “physically tired when I get back.” The division of labor they agreed upon years ago is that he takes out the trash, cleans the bathrooms, and does the laundry; she cooks, does dishes, makes the beds, sweeps and mops, and has the minor duty of “keeping up with the kids.”

On the evening in question, the wife asked him to wash the towels, and he seemed to think there was no urgency in the matter. He takes his video games very seriously, and she should understand. Also, she should be grateful that gaming is his vice instead of cheating.

“It might not be that second, but I’ll get it done,” he explained of his laundry procrastination. “Especially since she’s been home all day, I didn’t think it’d be an issue for her if she did them. Tonight, I was on the game in the middle of a conversation with my buddies. She asked me again to take care of the towels and I simply told her, ‘I’m in the middle of a game.’ She took a towel from the washing machine, threw it at me, and stormed off, slamming a door. I said something along the lines of ‘You’re always bitching.’ ”

The fight escalated to the wife declaring she wants a divorce. Even after typing all of this out, the husband wonders if there is some other reason she might want out.

Kieran@pegler_k

https://www.reddit.com/r/AmItheAsshole/comments/g9f7dz/aita_for_playing_video_games_while_my_wife/ 

Dude’s gonna have a whole lot more time for gaming in his near future.

AITA for playing video games while my wife chooses to do house chores?

Throwaway as my wife is often on Reddit… Married for 4 years, 2 children. We always argue. We both work, but when I get home I’d like to be able…

reddit.com

I have scrolled through almost all of the 1,200 responses to this post, for which commenting is already closed, and I have yet to see a single person voting in his favor. Big surprise there. So, rather than recap any kind of debate, my service to you will be in the form of choosing some of the best insults hurled at him:

 

“You [may] have 2 kids, but your wife has 3.”

“The chores he has are the chores you give your 13-year-old who wants to earn a little pocket money.”

“Move back in with your mom if you want to be babied that badly. You obviously aren’t ready to live in the real world.”

“Not the asshole. I’d say you’re the soon-to-be-single man.”

“There are 171,476 words in the Oxford dictionary but that’s still not enough to describe what a huge gaping prolapsed anus you are.”

“YTA, what’s her @ though?”

“I’m 14 and have more chores than you.”

For a more cathartic laughs at this guy’s expense, head over to Reddit. Also, enjoy this past story of a husband who woke up in the wrong decade and doesn’t understand that men need to do housework.

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‘Ghost of Tsushima’ is moving back a few weeks to mid-July.

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by Kris Holt via Engadget

The Last of Us Part II, fingers crossed, will at long last make its way to PS4 on June 19th. Sony and Naughty Dog had originally planned a February 21st release date, but they pushed the sequel back to May 29th. Earlier this month, they delayed the game indefinitely to better coordinate a global release strategy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As it turns out, you’ll only need to wait an extra few weeks for the next chapter of Ellie’s story.

News of the new date arrives just after major spoilers about The Last of Us Part II seemed to emerge in leaked videos. Footage showing cutscenes, gameplay and menus appear to be doing the rounds, but at the very least, you know how much longer you’ll have to dodge spoilers if you’re eager to play on release day.

To give Naughty Dog’s latest opus some breathing room, Sony has also pushed back another upcoming major title by a few weeks. Sucker Punch’s Ghost of Tsushima was scheduled for June 26th. Instead, the hotly anticipated samurai adventure will be out on July 17th.

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by Brian Womack via Dallas Business Journal

GameStop Corp. is cutting back on pay amid the challenges with COVID-19 – with the bigger cuts earmarked for the higher-ups.

The troubled Grapevine retailer (NYSE: GME) is temporarily reducing the salary of CEO George Sherman by 50 percent, the company said in a statement. There is a 30 percent reduction for CFO Jim Bell and the remainder of the executive leadership team.

“Certain other employees” across its units also will get cuts of between 10 percent and 30 percent temporarily. GameStop offered “certain” corporate support staff the option to temporarily furlough or take a reduced work week or pay program.

GameStop is looking for ways to find traction amid the onslaught of COVID-19 and the restrictions that have been put on its sites under shelter-in-place rules.

Since the company closed stores to the public on March 22, it retained more than 90 percent of planned sales volumes in the two thirds of the stores conducting curbside operations. Still, comparable store sales for the nine-week period ended April 4 dropped about 23 percent.

“We believe our aggressive focus on expense, inventory and capital expenditure reductions will help preserve our financial health as we work to ensure readiness and ramp up operations as soon as conditions allow,” Sherman said in a prepared statement. “The situation remains very fluid and a great deal of uncertainty remains, however, we entered into this time with a strong balance sheet and believe that we have sufficient cash and liquidity for the foreseeable future.”

With retail under pressure, the company did not make a portion of certain lease payments and remains in discussions with landlords.

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by Mike Feibus via USA TODAY

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – About a month ago, the internet started to list.

Up to that point, online activity flowed more or less in balance, with work traffic relegated mostly to the business side of the ship. Then social-distancing directives forced much of the serious stuff over to the starboard side. Which is where we watch Netflix.

As it happens, the country’s internet infrastructure has proven robust enough to handle the wholesale shift. Unfortunately, it’s a different story for many homes with older Wi-Fi routers that weren’t equipped to handle the onslaught.

If your work videoconference is struggling to keep pace because it’s crowded out by your spouse’s team meeting and the kids’ virtual classes, then take heart. Help is on the way.

Tomorrow, the FCC is expected to approve a new lane for Wi-Fi traffic, something it hasn’t done in more than two decades. It spans the 6GHz frequency range, which means it’s much faster than both 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi. Plus, it’s more than twice as wide as both those bands combined. Which means that 6GHz-enabled smartphones and tablets will have plenty of elbow room for all your family’s left-boat and right-boat activities.

You can’t buy electronics with 6GHz Wi-Fi yet. When devices do become available, they’ll be marked with the Wi-Fi 6e designation, which means they support the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard with radios that can communicate on the new band as well as the older, more crowded frequencies.

Expect to start seeing 6GHz devices – as well as routers to connect them – in time for what I’ll call the back-to-homeschool shopping season this summer.

A spectrum that can keep up

It’s not so much the skyrocketing volume of traffic borne out of social distancing that’s stressed older networks so much as the type of traffic. Even before work-from-home directives, Wi-Fi 4 and older-generation routers often had trouble keeping pace in the evening, when family members simultaneously played online games, engaged in social media and streamed videos.

Daytime internet traffic during social isolation has proven to be even more challenging, with multiple family members logged into high-bandwidth videoconferencing sites, with real-time activity flowing in both directions. Wi-Fi 6 laptops and smartphones are built for that. They’ll perform even better on 6GHz spectrum, where they will be free of interference from smart doorbells, thermostats and older tablets, PCs and phones.

These new network demands that Wi-Fi 6e addresses aren’t fleeting. They’ll remain in place long after the current stay-at-home directives are lifted. For one thing, health experts predict we’re in for more social-distancing initiatives over the next year or two in response to the ebb and flow of COVID-19 infections. But even when we’re not trying to flatten the curve, education and productivity are retooling for a future with more homebound activity than before. For one, school boards are expected to incorporate video into classrooms so kids can participate virtually when they’re home sick. With younger children, that likely will force at least one parent to stay behind and work from home.

As well, some professions are already rethinking how they approach face-to-face communication. In healthcare, for example, coronavirus is turning the emerging telemedicine industry on its head. Rather than examine people remotely who aren’t sick enough to go to the hospital, clinicians increasingly are tapping the technology to maintain safe distances between them and contagious patients.

I also believe that America’s culture of showing up to work sick will suffer collateral damage from the coronavirus crisis. We’ll still work, contagious or not. But going forward, we’ll probably do it from home.

Although it wasn’t planned that way, the new 6GHz spectrum couldn’t come at a better time. Because while the hull of our internet infrastructure has proven to be sound enough to handle the stress of an all-hands call to the home side of the deck, older home wireless networks have been exposed.

The upcoming 6GHz Wi-Fi, or Wi-Fi 6e, has the raw bandwidth, range and networking intelligence to run smoothly what we want to do and what we need to do. You might call it the new Wi-Fi for the new normal.

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I’ve been seated in this exact position for roughly a month now. (Image: Dan Howley)
by Daniel Howley, Technical Editor, Yahoo Finance

The majority of Americans are currently under some form of stay-at-home order, meaning we’re all spending a whole lot more time getting reacquainted with our couches. And with that extra down time, more people are turning to video games — especially as they look to distract themselves from the tragedy outside their doors.

Look no further than the record number of people simultaneously using Valve’s massive Steam gaming platform for proof that gaming is offering people a needed outlet to pass the time and stay in contact with friends and family.

But what if you’re new to gaming, and don’t know what to start with? Or are looking to get back into gaming after a hiatus? Then you’ve come to the right place. Because I’ve got a list of new titles that offer something for everyone who needs to take their mind off the outside world.

‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ – PS4

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‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ is, well, a remake of the classic JRPG with dramatically improved visuals and a far larger story. (Image: Square Enix)

Oh, mamma! “Final Fantasy VII Remake,” is, well, the long-awaited remake of the quintessential JRPG (Japanese role-playing game), “Final Fantasy VII.” Originally released for the PlayStation back in 1997, “FFVII,” as it’s known, is one of the most influential games in history thanks to its fantastic story and addictive gameplay.

Fans have been pining for “FFVII Remake” for years, and with the game finally available, it’s the perfect time to jump on it. Packing stunning graphics and a new real-time combat system, the game is a major technical upgrade.

The remake only goes through the first 4 to 5 hours of the original “FFVII” story, but expands it to 40 hours by adding a dump truck load of new content. Square Enix, the game’s developer, will be releasing additional chapters of the game in the future.

‘Doom Eternal’ – PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch

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‘Doom Eternal’ is the follow-up to 2016’s ‘Doom’ and features more over the top demon-crushing awesomeness than you can handle. (Image: Bethesda)

Good, old-fashioned demon-destroying mayhem. That should be the tagline for “Doom Eternal,” the follow-up to 2016’s outrageous reboot of the “Doom” franchise. What should you expect from this first-person shooter game set in a world overrun by demons?

How about a nonstop heavy metal riff-powered mad dash through stages of some of the most punishing combat you can imagine. We’re talking about running chainsaws through Possessed Soldiers, pulling the eyes out of Cacodemons, and blasting the limbs from Hell Knights.

Everything about “Doom Eternal” takes the franchise’s demon-slaying insanity, cranks it up to 13, and tosses the dial into a hell pit. “Doom Eternal” isn’t just nonstop craziness, though. The game offers smartly designed levels, and the controls are airtight for the kind of fast paced combat the title is known for. It’s a challenging few hours that are time well spent.

‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ – Switch

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‘Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ is one of the most relaxing, easy going games you can play. As long as you can get your hands on a Switch. (Image: Nintendo)

From stomping demon skulls to one of the most relaxing games to launch this year, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” for the Nintendo (NTDOY) Switch is, at its heart, a world-building game. But the world you build — a deserted island that transforms into a luxurious destination drawing celebrities like crooner K.K. Slider — is so cute and inviting that you feel compelled to keep playing.

You’ll do everything from build essential tools like shovels, axes, and fishing rods, to filling a museum’s exhibit halls with dinosaur fossils, constructing roads, sculpting the landscape itself, and decorating your own home.

With “New Horizon’s” online connectivity, you can even fly off and spend time on your friends’ islands, selling your own wares, and buying items not found on your little bit of paradise. I’ve been playing this game for weeks, and I still instinctively grab my Switch every time I plop down on the couch so I can check up on my townspeople.

‘Persona 5 Royal’ – PS4

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A favorite in my home, ‘Persona 5 Royal’ is an enhanced version of the 2017 original, and features new characters and bosses. Prepare to lose more than 100 hours of your life. (Image: Atlus)

I’m admittedly biased in including “Persona 5 Royal” on this list, because my wife and I are massive fans of the original version of this game, “Persona 5,” released in 2017. “Persona 5 Royal” adds quality-of-life changes to this 100-hour plus JRPG focused on high school students going to class, getting after-school jobs for spare cash, and fighting demons in a parallel dimension called the metaverse.

“Royal” also brings along a new character who teams up with your group of teenage vigilantes. These teens are seeking justice against adults whose desires for wealth, power, and control over others have poisoned their hearts. That’s where you and your friends, The Phantom Thieves, come in.

You’ll battle it out across various dungeons, capturing demons, or personas as they’re known in this game, before you reach your final battle to stave off a worldwide catastrophe. Think of it as a high school melodrama with a ton of addictive gameplay, lovable characters, and a dash of “Pokemon”-style collecting, and you’ve got a decent idea of what “Persona 5 Royal” has to offer.

‘Call of Duty: Warzone’ – PS4, Xbox, PC

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Drop into a 150-player free-for-all with ‘Call of Duty: Warzone.’ I’ve been playing this almost every night to stay in touch with my friends, and, my god, it’s fun. (Image: Activision Blizzard)

I’ve been spending a little too much time with this title as of late. “Call of Duty: Warzone” is a free-to-play battle royale title in which you and 149 other players battle it out across a massive map using everything from pistols to rocket launchers until just one of you is left.

The game, which launched March 10, already has more than 50 million players, and with the team of developers at Infinity Ward and Raven Software continuing to tweak the experience with new game modes and additional weapons, it’s clear this title will have staying power.

Similar to games like “Fortnite” and “PlayerUknown’s Battlegrounds,” you parachute out of a plane over the enormous game map, before diving to the Earth and scrounging for anything you can use against your competitors. The twist, however, is that when you die, you’re sent to what’s called the Gulag for a one-on-one gunfight. The winner is then sent back into the game to fight on, while the loser calls it quits.

I play this game several times a week with my friends, and it offers the opportunity to socialize with them, while blowing stuff up. What more could I ask for?

‘Ori and the Will of the Wisps’ – Xbox, PC

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‘Ori and the Will of the Wisps’ is a gorgeous side-scroller of a game that will challenge you, and may even bring a tear to your eye. (Image: Microsoft)

Looking for more of a traditional side-scroller? “Ori and the Will of the Wisps” might be the right option for you. Though, be warned, this title isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a challenging game that will require you to restart areas over and over again until you can master the controls and timing needed to move forward.

The sequel to the beautifully told “Ori and the Blind Forest,” “Ori and the Will of the Wisps” puts you in the role of Ori, a guardian spirit, who must find his lost friend Ku. This is the kind of game you not only play, but fall in love with thanks to its detailed level design and gorgeous visual styling. And there’s a decent shot you’ll end up tearing up a little at the end.

All you can play options

If you’re not sure whether these games are the right fit for you, you’re in luck, because both Microsoft and Sony offer all-you-can-play services that give you access to hundreds of games for a set monthly fee.

Microsoft’s (MSFTXbox Game Pass costs $9.99 per month, $4.99 to start, to play on PC; $9.99 per month to play on your Xbox One console; or $14.99 per month to access games on both PC and console, and lets you play more than 100 games as often as you want.

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Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass gives you unlimited access to more than 100 games for a flat monthly fee. (Image: Microsoft)

PlayStation Now

PlayStation Now is Sony’s (SNE) answer to Game Pass and starts at $9.99 per month, $24.99 for 3 months, or $59.99 for a year, giving you access to hundreds of games that you can download to your PS4, or stream to your PC.

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Sony’s PlayStation Now is another all-you-can-play option worth checking out. (Image: Sony)

Both options are an outrageous value, and well worth checking out if you’re searching for something to scratch that gaming itch while you’re stuck inside.

Happy gaming.

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by Rudie Obias via Yahoo Life Shopping

Video games are a fantastic way to pass the time, but they’re pricey. If you want to start playing without paying, we’ve got great news: The live-streaming service Twitch is dropping games that are free for Amazon Prime members.

Not a Prime member? Amazon offers a 30-day free trial for new users—sign up here. After the trial is over, you can get Amazon Prime for $13 a month or $119 a year. You have to be a Twitch member to join Twitch Prime, but it’s free to sign up.

Twitch Prime is a perk for all Prime members. Every month, users get five free games—worth more than $100 in total—to keep (even if you cancel the service), plus level-up options for characters, skins, boosts, upgrades, and more free of charge.

To start playing, you’ll need the Amazon Games app or the Twitch Desktop app for Windows 10, macOS, and iOS. It’ll work with iPadOS, Android, Fire TV, Chromecast, PS4, Xbox One, Apple TV, and more. Check out a full list of compatible devices here.

Scroll down for this month’s free videos:

Earthlock

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Released in 2016 by indie developers Snowcastle Games, Earthlock is a role-playing combat game following Amon, an adventurer and scavenger who gets caught up with the ruling Suvian Empire on Umbra, a planet that stopped spinning after a cataclysmic event.

Etherborn

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Etherborn is an award-winning puzzle game that breaks all the rules of gravity and physics. You play as a body with no voice in search of a voice without a body, as you shift and comb through big and small Rubik’s Cube-like structures.

Lightmatter

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You know that kid’s game “the floor is lava?” Well, Lightmatter works the same way, but in this case shadows are lava and light is safety.

Through a series of puzzles, you have to position your light sources (a lamp and an orb) in such a way that no shadows appear in your pathway, while you navigate an empty building after a catastrophic event. Terrifying…but fun.

Kathy Rain: A Detective is Born

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Kathy Rain: A Detective is Born is a point-and-click game that’s set in the ‘90s. It follows, you guessed it, Kathy Rain, a journalism major who comes home to investigate the mysterious death of her grandfather. It plays like a graphic novel with lots of hidden details, secrets, and twist-and-turns.

Turok

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This is the HD remastered version of the 1997 shooter video game Turok: Dinosaur Hunter. It follows Turok, a time-traveling warrior who protects the Lost Land (a world inhabited with aliens and dinosaurs)—as he pieces together the Chronoscepter, an ancient artifact designed to defeat an evil overlord called The Campaigner.

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