In what can only be seen as a worst-case scenario, this year's first ever Pokemon Go Fest suffered massive setbacks due to connectivity issues barring players from actually playing the game they had come to Chicago to celebrate.
The sold out event took place last Saturday, July 22, at Chicago's Grant Park, with an expected 20,000 fans in attendance. It was organized as a celebration of the augmented reality app – based on the popular television, video game and card game series – that became a bonafide phenomenon last summer, bypassing Twitter users on Android at its height. The fest's website touted increased chances of rare Pokemon, global challenges and rewards created specifically for the event, an exclusive medal and special Pokestops.
There were some issues, though.
It appears Nianitc's servers weren't ready for the massive influx of players in the Chicago park, causing widespread failure with the app. It didn't take long for players to begin voicing their frustration with the app and its poor performance.
"I arrived at Grant Park at 9 a.m., and was able to spin just one Pokéstop. I talked to dozens of people either playing Pokémon Go, or attempting to, and they are all having issues. Grant Park's numerous Pokéstops are lit up like Christmas Trees, and Unown is spawning, but few people can catch anything before the app crashes," Game Informer's Andrew Reiner writes. "AT&T users are apparently faring the worst, while Sprint has the best performance, which is still hardly playable. I even logged onto the press wi-fi at the event, and the app won't launch. It's getting crushed by players."
In the wake of these issues, Reiner tweeted out a video of the massive crowd chanting "Fix the game" as Niantic founder and CEO, John Hanke, took the stage. Other, too, have posted similar videos showing the crowd booing and chanting as the CEO as he attempts to speak. Worse yet, Twitch's stream of the event was able to capture the moment a fan threw a water bottle at one of the event's hosts.
"Today at Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, technical issues created problems for a large number of players attending the event," Niantic said in a post about the event. "From everyone at Niantic, we apologize to all of the Trainers who came out to Pokémon GO Fest today. Although we were able to solve many of the technical issues, we were not able to offer every attendee a great experience."
In an attempt to rectify the situation, the developer is offering the following to attendees:
All registered attendees will soon receive an email with instructions on how to receive a full refund for the cost of their ticket. These instructions will be sent to the email addresses associated with your Pokémon GO account.
All registered attendees will receive $100 in PokéCoins in their Pokémon GO account.
Special Pokémon, Eggs, and check-in PokéStops appearing during Pokémon GO Fest have had their range increased to a two mile radius surrounding Grant Park through Monday morning, July 24. These Pokémon and Eggs will only be visible to Pokémon GO Fest attendees who validated the QR code they received when they entered Pokémon GO Fest. Attendees who were unable to validate their QR code during the event can do so through the special PokéStops through Monday morning.
All registered attendees will have the Legendary Pokémon, Lugia, added to their account.
"Obviously they can’t completely make it up to all the people who have come out to Chicago today, but they want to extend the fact that they’re extremely apologetic and unhappy with the process and the results,” a spokesperson told members of the press at the event (via Polygon)
“Just know that the staff here are pretty horrified with the results, so they want to make good as fast as possible,” they added.
This is an unfortunate turn of events for a festival meant as a celebration of the game. However, this is not the first time Pokemon Go has faced these kinds of issues. When the game launched last summer, Niantic didn't anticipate its popularity, leading its servers to trip under the weight of all the game's downloads.