Science and Tech


Pokémon Go Fest Didn't Really Go Well

An estimated 20,000 people attended the festival, and Niantic is refunding their tickets.
Posted at 12:51 PM, Jul 24, 2017

Last summer's most hyped app celebrated its anniversary with a party — but it didn't go very well.

On Saturday, an estimated 20,000 "trainers" took to Chicago's Grant Park for Pokémon Go Fest. The event — which sold out tickets within half an hour — featured special game challenges, prizes and lounges where fans could hang out.

Even though tickets were sold out on the official website, some fans weren't afraid to drop big bucks to go to Niantic's event. On eBay, tickets sold for $200 to $800. That's at least 10 times the original price of $20.

The biggest prize? Legendary Pokémon. Niantic announced Thursday that "legendaries" would be coming to the app, but only if the trainers in Chicago defeated them.

And because of some technical difficulties, that was harder than expected.

Throughout the day, players faced network issues that made "Pokémon Go" unplayable. Niantic adjusted its app to help event attendees connect, but the sheer number of players at the park overpowered the network. As a result, disgruntled "trainers" chanted "fix the game" throughout the day.

Unable to fix the connection issues until the middle of the afternoon, Niantic announced a "small gesture" to help.

"We will be issuing refunds for your ticket from today, as well as crediting $100 in PokeCoins into everybody that's here in Chicago," said Mike Quigley, chief marketing officer for Niantic.

The size and hype surrounding Pokémon Go Fest is fitting for the app. At its peak — about three weeks after it launched — the app earned 90 million downloads in a single week. Followers estimated the game made around $2 million a day during its first couple weeks.

So far, no other app has come close to that peak. But the mainstream success didn't last too long.

Around the end of August, a little over a month after the game's debut, players began dropping off. Experts say the daily active user base of "Pokémon Go" is down to 5 million players — that's 23 million less than at its most successful point.

But what's left is a community of dedicated players and groups around the world. Though Niantic hasn't released plans for future festivals, fans of the game are continuing to plan their own