Pokémon Go’s first real-world event was a disaster, and everyone was refunded

Magikarp hat

Pokémon Go Fest attendee sports a homemade outfit based on the
Pokémon named Magikarp.

Alex Heath /
Business Insider

CHICAGO — “Fix the game!” “Fix the game!”

Boos and jeers erupted from thousands of Pokémon Go players in
Chicago’s Grant Park on Saturday after the game stopped working
for many who had paid and traveled far to be there.

Server outages and bugs plagued Niantic’s Pokémon Go at the
height of its popularity last summer, and a similar situation
occurred early into the game’s first-ever, all-day ticketed

Because of the server outages, which began early in the day
were never completed fixed, all roughly 20,000 attendees were
given full refunds for their $20 tickets and $100 worth of
in-game coins, which can be used to purchase special items.

A Niantic spokesperson told Business Insider during the event
that the game studio was working with carriers like AT&T and
Verizon to direct more coverage to the park. Not all players were
affected by the outage and some carriers, such as T-Mobile,
worked better with the game throughout the day.

At roughly 11 a.m. local time and the height of the server
outage, Niantic CEO John Hanke addressed players from a stage in
the park. He was loudly booed and heckled the moment he stepped
on stage.

“I paid $3,000 for this game!” one person in the crowd loudly
shouted at Hanke. Pokémon Go offers in-app purchases and is
estimated to be the fastest mobile game to reach $1 billion in

Pokemon Go Fest Chicago

Roughly 20,000 people paid
to go to Pokémon Go’s first-ever event in

Alex Heath / Business

Tickets to Chicago’s Pokémon Go Fest event sold out in under 10
minutes for $20 each, and many tickets were later resold online
for hundreds of dollars. Hanke said that players from Australia,
Europe, and other continents had traveled to Chicago for the

Besides the ability to catch rare Pokémon that are typically only
available in certain parts of the world, Niantic promised
attendees that they would have the chance to catch the first
ultra-powerful, so-called Legendary Pokémon at the end of the

In reality, there was only one regional Pokémon to be found in
the hit augmented reality game, Heracross. At the end of the
day, Niantic told attendees that they would all be automatically
awarded one Legendary Pokémon named Lugia. Most ticket holders
left the park before the event was scheduled to end at 7 p.m.

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