The first ever Pokémon Go Fest was held in Chicago this month, and things did not go well for Niantic, the game’s developer and organizer of the event. Niantic’s plan was to drive more interest to the popular mobile game, as reports have said that four out of five users worldwide have quit playing the game on a regular basis. Pokémon Go finished 2016 as the most downloaded app in the Apple Store, and it still ranks in the top 50 in 2017; however, with numbers tailing off, Niantic needed to find a way to generate more excitement about the game. The company decided to schedule live events around the world, where players can discover and possibly capture new, never-before-seen Pokémon. The only problem is that Pokémon Go remained more popular than they could have imagined, and people flew in from around the country to attend the festival in Chicago.
Pokémon Go Fest
The unexpected attendance was the first problem that Niantic faced. Over 20,000 Pokémon Go trainers showed up, creating massive lines at both the entrances and exits of the event. Given that the premise of the event was mobile-based, one would have suspected that Niantic had a plan for high usage of bandwidth, but instead, the game servers and cell towers became overloaded and crashed before anyone was able to witness the rare and coveted Pokémon.
As a result, Niantic was forced to refund the thousands of attendees that left the festival unhappy. On top of that, some fans that attended the event have actually filed a class-action lawsuit against Niantic, citing that the refunded ticket does not cover the travel expenses required to get to Chicago.
Nevertheless, Niantic has been forced to postpone many of their events that were scheduled in Europe, as they try to figure out how to improve the logistics surrounding the festival. Cities in which the festival was postponed include Copenhagen, Prague, Stockholm, and Amsterdam. Although the event was an epic failure in Chicago, it is clear that the demand for this kind of thing is huge. If Niantic can figure out a way to handle the massive crowds, then it appears that they have a winner on their hands.