In 2017, Niantic hosted Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago. And as you probably heard… many people felt it was a monumental failure. There were even lawsuits.
Well, no one’s bitchin’ now.
Pokémon Go Fest 2018 took place over two days, less than two weeks ago. Trainers could only attend one of the two days (I attended Saturday so I have no clue how Sunday went). But given the lack of negative press… this Go Fest is, by all accounts, a monumental success.
Go Fest’s largest problem last year (connectivity issues) was non-existent this time around. Sure, it was slow occasionally. But that issue seemed to only occur in one section of the Park. Considering Lincoln Park is nearly quadruples the size of Grant Park (last year’s location), this was a major success and surprise.
Niantic continued to impress by doing away with check-in stations, letting trainers check in by scanning a QR Code in the app. There were zero lines and this only became better when they started the event 30 minutes early!
If anything, Niantic may have been too generous this year.
This Go Fest had an outpouring of rare and newly encountered Pokémon. First, they released Torkoal, Unown (C,E,L,I,B,?), and the Alolan versions of Geodude and Diglett for the first time. I honestly got tired of catching those four. On top of that, there was an increased chance to encounter shiny versions of Pikachu, Shelder, Aerodactyl, Snorunt, Wailmer, Aron, Shuppet, Minun, Plusle, and Lugia. AND FINALLY, there was also a Professor Willow quest to catch Celibi!
Apart from the lunch line, it never felt crowded in the park. The size of Lincoln Park was a blessing due to the humidity caused by the occasional cloudburst. If it was as crowded as 2017’s Go Fest, it would have been insufferable. The brilliant decision to find specific Pokémon among four different “regions” in the park was a great way to divide people’s attention and space everyone out.
But that does not mean there isn’t room for improvement.
First and foremost, raids need to be during and/or after the event. Those were the saving grace for many after the first Go Fest, and not having any was a visible shortcoming.
More importantly, they HAVE to plan better when it comes to food. I know Taste of Chicago was the same weekend and that timing sucks for Go Fest. But only having six or seven food trucks isn’t going to cut it for 10,000+ people. The wait for food was consistently over an hour long. And that time is way too valuable.
Niantic proved they can throw a monumentally successful party for Pokémon Go, and I cannot wait for next year. If they can solve the two problems I mentioned above, then there’ll be nothing left to complain about.
Congratulations, Niantic! You did it!