Niantic Refunds Guests as Pokémon Go Fest Plagued by Network Problems and Game Bugs

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This past weekend, Niantic held a real-life event for the popular iOS and Android game Pokémon Go, called Pokémon Go Fest, where fans from all over the world descended upon Chicago to hunt for Pokémon in Grant Park. Ahead of the event, Niantic promised increased Pokémon encounters, challenges and rewards for the game's three teams, an exclusive in-game medal, special PokéStops, and more.


Unfortunately, the anniversary event was met with disgruntled attendees once network issues and game bugs were discovered by some of the 20,000 visitors to Chicago (via NBC Chicago). Niantic chief marketing officer Mike Quigley described the problems to fans during the event:

“One is a network issue. One of the providers is trying to pump in some more bandwidth so that’s something that we’re working with them closely on,” CMO Mike Quigley said onstage. “The other two issues are on the Niantic side. There’s a crash bug issue that we’ve identified. I know some of you have had that issue, as well as an authentication issue, so we’ve got it completely pinpointed to those three things.”

Some fans, speaking to CNBC, said that the problems became less frequent as the day went on, because Niantic began implementing quick fixes in the game -- like reducing animations -- to get it to run smoother.

"I spent more time trying to get the game to load than I have playing it," said Laura, who was using a phone with AT&T service. But early on, network issues were affecting all four of the major US carriers. "It was rough in the morning," said Abbie Harrison, a Verizon customer. "They're turning off animations for the lures and stuff to make it run better. It's running better now. I'm actually able to log in. It was really spotty and nothing would show up on my screen. I can now actually see and do things."

In response, Niantic is offering those who went to Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago a full $20 refund on their tickets, as well as $100 in-game credit in the form of Pokécoins. The developer also expanded the range of special Pokémon and PokéStops that appeared during the event to a two mile radius, giving attendees a chance to move farther out from Grant Park and get better cellular reception.

Image via Pokémon Go on YouTube

The event marked the start of Legendary Pokémon appearing within the game, so in response to the sign-in problems Niantic is gifting all registered attendees Lugia into their Pokémon Go accounts.

Game bugs, crashes, and server problems have been associated with Pokémon Go since the app launched last summer, which Niantic has largely addressed with various updates to the game. With Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago over, a similar festival has already been announced in Yokohama, Japan for sometime in August.

Top Rated Comments

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37 months ago
Maybe they were just trying to instill a sense of nostalgia for when the game had first launched.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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37 months ago

One year later and the game is still a bugfest. And I doubt it will ever be in a stable state given that Pokémon Go's popularity has died down significantly, to the point where Niantic will be wasting resources perfecting it.

They just had a massive event with a ton of people, and Pokemon Go is still a top grossing game. They are still making bank on it, it is just when it released it was at an astronomical scale.

I have to question their thinking though, I have literally never been to a massive gathering of people where cell reception was not an issue, and that is just with normal usage. Here you are creating a group of people there with the sole intention of being on their phone using data. They really should have had their own rented wifi hardware, though there would still probably be issues with so many clients. The bugs in the app itself are pretty terrible though, they have made enough money at this point that they should be able to release a stable game.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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37 months ago

cell-service in downtown Chicago has always been spotty for me, at least with AT&T

It's like that everywhere with AT&T. :(
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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37 months ago

One year later and the game is still a bugfest. And I doubt it will ever be in a stable state given that Pokémon Go's popularity has died down significantly, to the point where Niantic will be wasting resources perfecting it.

I don't think that's a fare appraisal for the game beyond this huge group in Chicago. The game outside of the Fest works just fine for the most part. I use it while I walk daily.

They had things for the "rest of the world" to do for 1/2 hour chunks in coordination with the Fest down in Chicago, my daughter and I did that and had no issues (11am, 1pm and 3pm) at any point (this was in the Suburbs of Chicago).

Definitely agree they should have done a huge WiFi, if that was possible...and tested first no matter what - they could get all the Go'er volunteers they wanted ahead of time.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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37 months ago

I don't think that's a fare appraisal for the game beyond this huge group in Chicago. The game outside of the Fest works just fine for the most part. I use it while I walk daily.

They had things for the "rest of the world" to do for 1/2 hour chunks in coordination with the Fest down in Chicago, my daughter and I did that and had no issues (11am, 1pm and 3pm) at any point (this was in the Suburbs of Chicago).

Definitely agree they should have done a huge WiFi, if that was possible...and tested first no matter what - they could get all the Go'er volunteers they wanted ahead of time.

The game is extremely buggy, even without talking about the fest. It has earned quite a reputation for being a poorly made game. The fest brought to light a whole new problem, which was cellular congestion.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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37 months ago

Didn't people fly there specifically for the event? I get that this attracted their biggest fans, and so the likelihood of defection is low, but I really expected them to do something a little more special. For example, issue everyone who got a ticket a limited edition pokemon. Maybe whatever there starter pokemon was in "make pokemon great again" hat. Just a thought.

Might want to actually read the article.

The event marked the start of Legendary Pokémon appearing within the game ('http://pokemongo.nianticlabs.com/en/post/legendaryrewards'), so in response to the sign-in problems Niantic is gifting all registered attendees Lugia into their Pokémon Go accounts.

Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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