It was an event that was long in the planning. After all, it would commemorate the first year since Nintendo and #niantic labs initially took the world by storm with “#Pokémon GO.” The once-addictive mobile app that had people all over the world wandering outside with smartphones in their hands is not as pervasive as it had been in those heady July days of 2016. Still, a robust and dedicated fandom remained so that Niantic could feasibly hold a national party for the app called “Pokémon Go Fest” in #Chicago, one of the most “Go”-crazy cities from last year. The festivities continued all day last Saturday and were deemed enjoyable enough by the attendees despite the epic failure that is the game crashing on that day.

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Bad start

Up to about 20,000 die-hard fans of “Pokémon Go” and the Pokémon franchise gathered in force at the Grant Park in Chicago on July 22. They were there to join in the fun of the “Pokémon Go Fest,” Niantic Labs’ one-year anniversary blowout bash in honor of their runaway smash hit mobile gaming app. The event promised a lot of things to the game players who showed up. These included special challenges for that day on the app’s environment. Multiple uncommon Pokémon were made catchable within the festival premises (including the "Legendary" Lugia). There were also boss raid challenges, a commemorative in-game medal achievement being at the event, and of course the chance to hang out with fellow fans of “Pokémon Go.”

The reality on the ground, however, was a far cry from the ideal.

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The special cellular sites set up by Niantic to facilitate the operation of “Pokémon Go” during the day-long event were not up to snuff. Furthermore, the actual game servers themselves seemed to suffer a loss in performance on that day of all times. For the Chicago attendees, actually playing the game app there celebrating became so difficult, they ended up greeting Niantic CEO John Hanke with boos during his event speech.

Making up for the hassle

Niantic Labs were quick to issue apologies for the abysmal organization of the “Pokémon Go Fest” and its online component. Some of the company’s appeasement gestures include promises to have each registered participant in the event with a “Pokémon Go” account credited with $100 worth of in-game Poke-Coins, the automatic addition of Lugia to their catches of the day, and even a full refund of their $20 tickets. The last part was not well received, especially by attendees who bought tickets at inflated prices from scalpers.

As a parting note, Niantic Labs made it known that once their servers and cellular reception has been restored, not only will they keep it online for “Pokémon Go” players up until Monday, July 24, they will also extend the maximum coverage of the cell-sites outside Grant Park, up to a 2-mile radius of the Chicago area.