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Pokemon Go Fest is a Huge Disaster (Update: Refunds Issued)

by Kyle Hanson

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UPDATE: According to various reports the event is officially cancelled (the event still seems to be on for now) and refunds are being issued to attendees along with $100 in in-game currency. Players at the event will also receive Lugia in their account, with others able to catch Lugia and Articuno later on.

Original Story: Today marked a big day for Pokemon Go, the mobile game that caught the world by storm last year. While player numbers have went down since the game’s unprecedented success, it still holds an audience of millions. Pokemon Go Fest started this morning in Chicago with fans anticipating an epic event with fun and tons of Pokemon catching. The reality is very different though, reminding many of the massive issues seen when the game first launched.

Currently the live stream, which was meant to be a celebration of the event, broadcasting it to fans around the world, is shut down and chat has been disabled. This is likely because the last couple of hours of the stream were filled with crowds chanting things like “we can’t play” and “fix the game” in the background while the hosts tried desperately to keep spirits high. Crowds have turned against Niantic pretty badly with boos being directed at company employees, including the CEO.

Thousands of people flooded Grant Park for Pokemon Go Fest, with tickets selling out almost instantaneously when Niantic made them available. These thousands of players have now had to contend with server issues, wireless connectivity issues, and many are still locked out of the event hours after it has started.

Tweets from those in line are grim, showing huge lines that stretch endlessly. It’s not clear now, with the event having been ongoing for hours, whether everyone has made it inside yet or not. It’s tough to understand what could cause such major issues, as Niantic had complete control over how many people could get tickets, and the location of the event.

In fact, even the server and wireless issues are puzzling. Pokemon Go had huge problems when it first launched, supposedly because Niantic didn’t know how popular the game would be. Now, over a year later, they had to understand what the situation would be like at their first live event.

Even knowing this, Pokemon Go Fest is a disaster according to those who are at the event, and it’s tough to see how it can be salvaged this late into the day. Hopefully things get worked out soon and players at the event can enjoy the festivities, including the first appearance of Legendary Pokemon. Of course, that special treat was to be based on how many Pokemon were caught at Pokemon Go Fest, so it might not happen now.

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