It was supposed to be one of the first big planned events for Pokémon Go. It was supposed to be awesome.
For the fans who could get to Chicago, Pokémon Go Fest was designed to allow players to work together to unlock new rewards like legendary Pokémon on a global scale. It sounded like a great way to encourage teamwork; the ultimate celebration of Pokémon Go’s first year as such a successful game.
It was supposed to be all those things, but the event quickly fell apart into disaster.
During one of the hottest summers on record, many of the players ended up waiting over three hours just to get into the outdoor event. The wristbands that participants purchased were meant to make checking in expedient, but in some cases the wristband check-in took over 30 minutes to complete. Sure, players were able to capture a few Pokémon, and even rare characters not previously not released in the U.S., but the fun stops there. As the crowd slowly grows, connectivity and lag issues plagued Pokémon Go – an issue that highlighted a game developer not being prepared for their own popularity.
Thousand of fans who paid for plane tickets and hotel rooms couldn’t even play the game they loved. As more and more Niantic and event spokespeople took the stage to address all these issues, the crowd turned on them and began chanting, “We Can’t Play!” and “Fix The Game!” The event staff reported many people swearing at them and one volunteer even had a water bottle thrown at her on stage. They had planned on players being able to broadcast their game screens on the massive display screens at the event stage, but many phones were not compatible. There were charging stations set up for all types of phones, but they were few and far between.
Ultimately, Niantic announced that they would be refunding the price of admission to all participants and crediting them $100 in Pokecoins. Unsurprisingly, this did not seem to satisfy most of these disappointed fans who had spent all kinds of cash on travel, lodging, and food. This whole event just was not prepared for properly. There were no Pokémon to catch while waiting in line. There should have been temporary cell towers in the park to boost signal and ease the connectivity strain.
Moral of the story? If you plan an event based entirely on your technology, then your tech should be rock solid. One thing you can bet on – – – Pokémon Go Fest won’t make these mistakes again.