Niantic held its first Pokemon GO Fest this Saturday, but things didn’t go as planned. Pokemon GO had a number of special events so far, but never a dedicated festival until now. The festival took place in Chicago at Grant Park and attracted a slew of fans, who were promised the chance to capture legendary Pokemon Lugia, but things took a turn for the worse when congested networks made the game basically unplayable. Players started complaining about connectivity issues four hours before the festival even started, as they were unable to log into the game. When the festival kicked off at 10 AM, mobile networks were so congested that they virtually crashed, marring the special occasion.
The company eventually acknowledged the issues, admitting that this was not how they imagined the day would go. Niantic representatives who took the stage at the festival were booed by frustrated fans and the company apologized for the situation, trying to make amends to appease disgruntled players. The developer refunded the $20 players had paid for the festival ticket and gave all attendees $100 worth of Pokecoins for use in the game. Moreover, Niantic also offered a Pokemon Lugia to all attendees who registered for the festival, albeit this took away the satisfaction of capturing the critter. In an attempt to ease the load on mobile phone networks, Niantic also expanded the area with rare Pokemon, covering a two-mile radius around Grant Park for the 24 hours of the Pokemon GO Fest.
Attendees were still the first to get Lugia, and the legendary Pokemon is now available worldwide along with another one, Articuno. Both of these critters, however, are tougher to capture than regular Pokemon, and players have to form “raids” and work together to get a hold of the pocket monsters. All in all, fans who took part in the event did get their money back for the ticket and they also got Lugia and free Pokécoins to make amends, so it wasn’t all bad. Nevertheless, the first Pokemon GO Fest definitely didn’t go as planned and the whole situation cast a shadow on the game’s first anniversary. Niantic will likely take this matter into account the next time it organizes such a festival so as not to relive Saturday’s fiasco.