The Pokemon GO Fest is currently taking place in Chicago’s Grant Park, promising fans the opportunity to catch the game’s first Legendary Pokemon and participate in other challenges. But immense technical problems have soured the event.
According to our site staff Bob Edwards, “GO Fest is a complete disaster. The game is unplayable and will not load. Servers are down, people who paid are unable to get in. No one is catching anything.” His sentiments match Tweets from hundreds of other fans in attendance.
His conclusion: “It was not well thought out.”
Niantic sold over 20,000 tickets to the event, but cellular service can’t keep up. John Hanke, CEO of Niantic, took to the event’s main stage to reassure fans that Niantic was working with cell phone companies like Verizon and AT&T to get the problems sorted out. However, he was booed multiple times by the crowds even long after leaving the stage.
Beyond the technical issues, fans who purchased tickets are unable to get in to the physical event. Thousands in line have been told they may not be able to get in for several hours. Many fans reportedly flew in from different states and countries just to attend. “It’s disorganized and unprofessional,” Edwards stated.
While a livestream of the festival was planned, it is currently offline, presumably because of the event’s failings.
Niantic and The Pokemon Company have not addressed these issues on social media yet. If fans were able to defeat a Legendary Pokemon at the festival today, that same Legendary Pokemon would be available at Gyms worldwide on Sunday. However, the event’s failings now leave that possibility uncertain.
The event’s technical issues are in line with those that plagued the game when it first launched last summer. No one expected the game to be a smash hit back then, so objectively those issues were excusable.
In this case of this festival, however, Niantic chose to sell 20,000 tickets and should have anticipated how 20,000 Pokemon GO players might impact cell phone towers. Yet staff at the event are claiming it is not “their fault” there is poor cell phone service, according to Edwards.
Could the negative reception and Niantic’s poor handling of the event mean this will be the first and last Pokemon GO event? Or will Niantic learn from their mistakes and will fans forgive them? Let’s hope so!
Let this also be a lesson to Niantic that this is what happens when you try to disturb the balance of nature by capturing the Legendary Birds! :x
Update (11:30 AM): Niantic reps at the event are now apologizing, issuing ticket refunds, and giving each player $100 worth of in-game currency.
Update #2 (3:00 PM): Lugia can now be encountered by players at the event. For the rest of us, both Lugia and Articuno will be coming to raid battles worldwide within the next 48 hours!