Animal Crossing: New Horizons is scheduled to release tomorrow, March 20, but dedicated players who need to start it immediately may want to buy the digital version. The novel coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has impacted Amazon’s warehouses, and the game’s shipments could be delayed.
On March 19, Amazon began sending out email notices to those who pre-ordered Animal Crossing: New Horizons to inform them of the issues. Amazon is prioritizing household staples and supplies in order to best assist with mitigating the effects of coronavirus, and Animal Crossing isn’t considered a staple.
Any orders already placed will be fulfilled, but they will likely arrive later than the launch date. Anyone who pre-ordered the game should receive another email whenever a new shipping date is set, should they keep the order instead of purchasing the digital version from Nintendo’s eShop.
The issues appear to have begun before Amazon made any official announcement. Nioh 2 released on March 13, but Digital Trends had not received a copy via Amazon by that date. In fact, the game had not even shipped yet.
Amazon isn’t the only retailer struggling with video game launches during the coronavirus outbreak. GameStop was forced to cancel midnight launch events for Animal Crossing: New Horizons and Doom Eternal in order to keep large crowds from forming at stores. The company also received permission from Bethesda to sell Doom Eternal one day early while keeping New Horizons‘ launch on its original March 20 date. The rationale is that about half the crowd will show up each day rather than have them all go to GameStop stores at once, though it’s unclear yet if this will be effective at slowing the virus.
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
Customers in certain states and regions could encounter difficulty trying to buy these games in-person at all. Pennsylvania and New Jersey both closed “nonessential” businesses, leaving only places like gas stations, grocery stores, pharmacies, and hospitals fully running. In these regions, buying games digitally may be the only way to play them relatively close to launch, as there is no sign of the coronavirus slowing down yet.
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