I guess we should have really seen this one coming. The Pokémon Go Fest Chicago event, the first of its kind, has gone about as wrong as it possibly could, sending Niantic into full crisis management mode as a consequence.
It all started in fairly innocuous fashion, with long queues to get into Chicago’s Grant Park early in the morning for a day long bonanza of catching rare Pokémon and building up to an almighty showdown with a Legendary Pokémon, ahead of its release into the wider world of Raid Battles.
However, it didn’t take long for the mobile phone networks to start buckling under the strain of thousands of people trying to use their data networks. Obviously, Niantic hurried to try and get AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile to shore up their networks, but it was hours before players started to be able to get back online, leading up to the rather sad scenes of fans chanting “We can’t play!” as Niantic hosted live streams at the event.
In fact, the problems went deeper than just dodgy 3G connections. CMO Mike Quigley said at one point that “There are three issues that we are tackling right now. One of the network providers is trying to pump in some more bandwidth, so that is something that we’re working with them closely on.
“The other two issues are on the Niantic side. There is a crash bug issue, that we have identified, I know that some of you have had that issue. As well as an authentication issue. We’ve got it completely pinpointed to those three things, we’re working on it [and] we’ll give you an update as we get closer to getting that fixed.”
Part of the resolution Niantic have decided on is that attendees will have their tickets refunded, in addition to receiving $100 worth of Pokécoins to spend in-game. To help lessen the localised load on networks, those who have scanned the event’s special QR ticket can catch rare Pokémon such as Heracross and Unown and hatch eggs for a two mile radius around the park.
While the day has continued with major capture phases occurring that will lead to capture bonuses for players around the world, but it’s now culminated in Niantic effectively cancelling the main part of the event. Niantic have called off the Legendary battle that was due to take place.
Eurogamer’s Matt Reynolds has been tweeting throughout the day, stating that Lugia was due to be the Legendary battled and will simply be rolling out across the world’s Raid Battles, while it’s given for free to all attendees. Articuno has also been unlocked after Team Mystic did a better job compared to its rivals.
Niantic forgoing a Legendary battle at #PokemonGOFest – Lugia simply rolling out now (and given free for attendees) as well as Articuno
— Matthew Reynolds (@Crazyreyn) July 22, 2017
It’s all a bit depressing when you realise that there’s going to also have been a lot of kids at this event eager to catch Pokémon, and it’s just gone very, very wrong…