Pokémon Go Fest Chicago Has Gone Very, Very Wrong

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.

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…

Source: Nintendo Insider, Eurogamer, The Very Lovely Matt Reynolds

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  1. When I read your headline I feared something really bad had happened. Just the network that didn’t work? Are you joking? In 2017? What a surprise indeed..!

    Of course, technology is unreliable. I’m glad no one was hurt in a (stupid) event like that.

  2. It’s the same issues that plagued the launch a year ago. This time however it’s ridiculous that when they got 20k people to pay to come to an event that they found it was too much.n

    The event in Chester went much better but it was far less in scope although there were issues with too many stops slowing the game down.

  3. You would have thought they would have asked the comms providers to make sure there was enough bandwidth at the planning stage, seems a sensible thing to do.

    • They did. They asked everyone of those American providers if they were ready for 25k people on one mast, they all said they could handle it.
      Niantic also asked all providers to bring a mobile cell tower on the grounds, Sprint are the only ones that bothered.
      This wasn’t all niantics fault really, Chester was a bit of a disaster for the same reasons, and niantic weren’t involved at all there.

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