This information was originally streamed in Keith Avallone's "Mid-Month Info Mash" video on the PLAAY Games Facebook Page, Monday March 16th, 2020. It was most recently updated on Thursday, May 20th. As things are rapidly changing, we'll continue to update as needed, when we have new information to share. Thanks for being part of the PLAAY community; community is more important now than it ever has been!
Obviously, the thing that everyone's talking about right now is COVID19, the Corona Virus. You've probably gotten a series of emails from various companies you do business with, providing information about what they're doing and how things are the same/different while this thing is going on. I thought it would be good for us to do the same thing...
For us, and probably for MOST online businesses, it's been pretty much business as usual, with these distinctions...
Higher rate of our business e-mails being classified as spam. With so many people forced/choosing to stay home, e-mail volume has hit all-time highs. That has thrown a monkey wrench into the algorithms that the big companies use to automate their decision-making about what's spam and what's not. The only way to play it these days is to err on the side of caution, meaning that a good number of e-mails that aren't spam are being sent to junk or blocked entirely. That includes us, and it's especially true for e-mails with PDF attachments. We make it a point to always send PDFs within 24 hours, come hell or high water, so if it's been longer than 24 hours, first check your spam/junk folder and if it's not there, reach out to us. I feel terrible whenever someone waits a week for their PDF only to discover that it was sitting in their junk folder the entire time!
Slower delivery times for printed games and card sets. I feel as though the USPS, Canada Post and Royal Mail have performed admirably despite a diminished work force and increased restrictions. But there have been issues. We've seen some crazy routing patterns--like packages addressed to suburban Denver, routed through Portland OR or Sioux Falls, SD--which have doubled or even tripled the normal delivery service standards. Packages to Canada have been especially problematic, with extended delays in customs sometimes quadrupling the delivery window: shipments that used to take about a week can take as long as a month.
Some delays in processing orders. It's always been our goal to turn orders around next business day (or, SAME day when possible!). However, the COVID virus has occasionally put a crimp in those plans. Both of our print suppliers have reduced operating hours, and we've seen some disruption in necessary supplies for our products like bubble wrap and perforated paper. Fortunately, these glitches have been minor in nature so far--probably 95% of our orders have met our next-day goal. For the 5% or so that we have had to put on hold a day or two, we do apologize.
Postponement/cancellation of Live Events Unfortunately, we were forced to postpone our event scheduled for May 16th in London. It's disappointing, because we had such an enthusiastic response and a good-sized group of gamers who planned to be there. On the plus side, it won't be hard to re-boot plans when this all settles down, since we already know who's interested in attending and have flights, accomodations and venues already picked out. Our convention, "PLAAY-Dot-CON 2020" has been cancelled. Among other things, our host hotel is restricting gatherings to 10 people or less, with no end date in sight for that proviso. We've switched gears, and will offer an online gathering instead, we're calling it "PLAAY-NOT-CON 2020," to be held August 8th and 9th. You can read more about PLAAY-NOT-CON 2020 here. We have not made a final decision on our planned Fall Classic Pre-PLAAY event scheduled for September in Cooperstown, NY. But given that the major league baseball season is in peril and there likely won't be an In-Season card set, combined with ongoing health and safety concerns, I believe it's unlikely that we'll be able to hold that event either.
In addition to our efforts to keeping PLAAY Games going as normally as possible, Sam and I have tried to be proactive and community-minded during this outbreak. A couple thoughts...
• With all college and pro sports suspended, there's a huge VOID where sports used to be! This is where our hobby really has something to offer, I think. Without real sports, we can still "watch" sports through our tabletop games.
• People in charge are still telling us to stay home, to continue to practice "social distancing" and there doesn't seem to be a time frame for this to end. This also, I think, creates an ongoing void because people are meant to interact with each other!
So we thought we would try to address both of these things—the absence of sports and community—by creating sports content of our own that people can watch together on our YouTube channel stream, maybe find something to root for. We completed a six-week FURY FOOTBALL season—"Big Fury 6," "Six teams, Six weeks, One Champion!" We followed that up with our DEMO DERBY SMASH-DOWN "V-8 Extermi*NATION!" another six-week series featuring members of the community (virtually) bashing into each other in classic '60s and '70s Detroit iron. We have an all-new Tuesday night series planned to begin in June—stay tuned!
Finally, we want you to know that we are here for you! For us, PLAAY Games is a vocation more than a business. I fee like it's kind of "our calling." So it goes beyond just playing games and shipping packages. I have been exchanging e-mails with lots of folks, many of whom are anxious, some facing significant challenges. I started sort of an impromptu prayer list a few weeks ago, and want to expand it to include anyone who feels moved to reach out. We have quite a few folks in our community who are people of faith, Christ-followers, and it's such a privilege to love and serve. For prayer, or if there's anything else we can do, please let us know!
Speaking of faith, there's a verse that is often-quoted as a bible verse, but is actually not IN the bible anywhere: "This too shall pass!" Though it's not in the bible, the sentiment is, I think, biblical (which is why it gets quoted so often, probably!). With faith, hope and love for each other—we will get through this!
Blessings and good health to you and your loved ones!
Keith Avallone, PLAAY Games LLC