People are comfortable buying games digitally, but in Australia there's plenty of circumstances where an old-fashioned brick and mortar dealer offers a better physical deal — especially for console gamers.
Unfortunately, if you were hoping to have a choice for Final Fantasy 7 Remake, that's going to get a lot harder with FF7R being delayed to the no-shopping day, Good Friday.
Square Enix announced earlier this morning that the Final Fantasy 7 Remake had been delayed by just over a month to April 10, from its original launch day of March 3. Yoshinori Kitase, producer of the game, said the delay was necessary "to apply final polish to the game".
What wasn't noted, however, was that April 10 happens to be Good Friday - a day when trading hours in Australia, and many countries in the West, are restricted. Good Friday is one of the regular public holidays that is observed nationwide, as is customary, and Good Friday and Easter Sunday fall under what's called "restricted trading periods".
This means that, unless a business has a specific exemption from the government, they're not allowed to be open on either of those days. There's only five restricted trading days in New South Wales:
- Good Friday
- Easter Sunday
- Anzac Day (restrictions are in force before 1pm only)
- Christmas Day
- Boxing Day (restrictions are only outside the Sydney Trading Precinct).
Restricted trading days exist to give retail workers some guaranteed time off with family and friends over the course of the year, but businesses can apply to NSW Fair Trading for an exemption. Small shop retailers are automatically exempt under NSW law, but a business like EB Games would never apply for that exemption under the Retail Trading Act:
(1) A shop is exempted from a requirement under this Act to be kept closed at a particular time if it complies with the requirements of this section.
(2) The occupier or occupiers of the shop must be:
(a) natural persons not exceeding 2 in number (whether or not carrying on the business of the shop in partnership) or 1 corporation, and
(b) the owner or owners of the business of the shop and entitled to the profits of that business.
(3) The number of persons engaged in the shop as employees or otherwise in the conduct of the business of the shop on any day (either at the same time or at different times) is not to exceed 4.
(4) The number of persons permitted to be engaged in a small shop as referred to in subsection (3) does not include:
(a) the occupier or occupiers or, if the occupier is a corporation, not more than 2 natural persons who are shareholders of the corporation, or (b) any person so engaged in an emergency during the absence from the shop for part of a day of a person who is so engaged in the shop on that day, or
(c) any person so engaged outside the normal working hours of any person so engaged on a full-time basis.
The United States has it a little easier: GameStop is typically open on Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, closing only on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Good Friday is more strictly observed in the UK and Canada, and certain parts of Europe also close down for Good Friday. Many German businesses, for instance, are closed over Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, but not Easter Saturday.
One country where Good Friday isn't observed, naturally, is Japan. And that's probably where the basis of this call was made: it's not a public holiday in Japan, and Square HQ probably didn't think it would be an issue anywhere else. But in a lot of Western countries, it puts gamers into a really awkward spot: if they can't collect their pre-order the day before, they'll have to either wait until Saturday or the following week to start playing, or they'll have to pay full price digitally, which is around $20 more here than what brick and mortar retailers are charging.
Kotaku Australia has emailed EB Games to ask what their plan is to handle the delay, but we haven't heard back at the time of publish. A JB staffer at one major Sydney store Kotaku Australia spoke to confirmed they would be closed and, due to the global embargo, there was no possibility of JB releasing pre-orders a day early for fans. This would mean people would have to pick up their pre-orders on the Saturday, if the store they ordered from was open, unless they wanted to cancel their pre-order and buy digital. Another major JB store confirmed that all JB Hi-Fi stores would be shut on Good Friday, but the manager we spoke to said there was "a chance" that Square Enix might move the release forward a day, although they couldn't outline where they got that information from.
Still, hopefully the public pressure will convince Square to shift the release a day forward or a week back to stave off a nightmare.