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.
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.