While millions of Pokémon Go trainers were greatly anticipating Niantic’s global Pokémon Go Fest, Chicago’s Grant Park attendees, where the main hub of the event took place, sadly experienced an awful attempt at the game’s first official live event. However, the company has spoken out, offering reimbursement and special in-game benefits to those who were affected.
Kicking off the day, players across the world prepared to catch as many Pokémon during the three challenge windows, but Grant Park players reported they were still waiting to even enter the event due to a wait time of upwards of three hours. More importantly, when fans were able to get into the park, the game was not loading correctly, either completely shutting out trainers or kicking them out of Raids and Pokémon captures. When Niantic CEO John Hanke took to the stage to address the crowd, several videos revealed a chanting of “we can’t play!” By midday, Niantic officially shut down the event, offering to refund the original $20 ticket price and a bonus of $100 worth of PokéCoins.
— Maria MsDBZbabe (@MsDBZbabe) July 22, 2017
According to Polygon, a spokesperson from Niantic spoke to press during the event, explaining their understanding of the negative sequence of events that led to fan anger. “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,” said the spokesperson. “So hopefully this is something that we will never see replicated again, learn from this and move on.”
In addition to the ticket refund and PokéCoins, Chicago area players will also be given the legendary Pokémon Lugia for free, as both it and generation one’s Articuno are now available to capture through level five Raids. Niantic also extended the duration of in-game bonuses by forty-eight hours, including double Stardust, experience, candy, and shorter distances on egg hatchings.
Niantic later released an official statement on the Pokémon Go blog, stating: “Today at Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago, technical issues created problems for a large number of players attending the event.” While who to blame for the server and cellular data issues was never confirmed, sponsored YouTubers in attendance have since spoken out about the experience, including the channel Trainer Tips. He noted Niantic had reached out to all cellular carriers in the country, requesting additional portable cell towers be sent to Chicago to improve data connectivity and speeds. However, according to the YouTuber, only Sprint responded and sent extra towers.
Thankfully, the most anticipated feature of the event, the release of legendaries, did happen, with team Mystic’s Articuno being the first official team bird released first. However, there is no word on when team Instinct’s Zapdos or team Valor’s Moltres will become available.