Pokemon Go Fest was meant to be a fun day for Pokemon Go (opens in new tab) fans to find rare Pokemon and kick of the next stage of the mobile game monster. It could be going better.
Things started well enough, with fans queuing to get in, excited at the prospect of a big community event filled with raids and rare Pokemon.
Who said Pokemon GO is dead? #PokemonGOFest pic.twitter.com/G3v0OZueoGJuly 22, 2017
Chicago last night #PokemonGO pic.twitter.com/Nn1GRhVpu8July 22, 2017
THIS IS INSANE!!! 🔥🔥🔥 #PokemonGOFest #PokemonGO pic.twitter.com/RGcYA5GMgZJuly 22, 2017
But, in what seem to be an on going theme for Niantic, nobody was prepared. Two main things have gone wrong. Firstly, the sheer number of people there has collapsed the phone network so no one can play.
A quick scan of the park, almost every player is stuck on Pokémon Go's loading screen.July 22, 2017
Niantic's John Hanke on stage confirming that server and cell issues are being worked on right now. Crowd a little happier. #PokemonGOFest pic.twitter.com/5YcVqJJytLJuly 22, 2017
And, secondly, entry to the event has taken too long, with 2-3 hour queues leaving many outside the main area.
This is a paid event (with at least one fan we spoke to having spent thousands of dollars to travel from Australia to be there) and, while things started in good spirits, it seems to have gone catastrophically wrong. Both technically and in terms of atmosphere. GR+'s Louise Blain is at the event and, speaking to her, paints an ugly scene filled with upset children and moody crowds booing and chanting.
This was the scene when Niantic CEO John Hanke took to the stage:
lol, people booing at Niantic CEO John Hanke on stage at Pokemon Go Fest because the game is unplayable for many attendees pic.twitter.com/QFZQTiMRxrJuly 22, 2017
As well as the booing you can here chants of 'fix the game,' and 'we can't play.'
pic.twitter.com/DPykr4tH8uJuly 22, 2017
Grown men chanting 'We Can't Play' during Pokemon GO Fest sums up the gaming community the past decade.July 22, 2017
Hanke addressed the crowd, saying "I know some of you guys are having trouble getting logged on this morning, and I wanted to let you know that we’re working with the cell companies, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, trying to get that worked out.” It feels like the sort of conversation you'd want to have before you get somewhere between 10-20 thousand people all in one place trying to use their phones.
The organisation seems so overwhelmed that people are even struggling to leave.
[humor] there's a massive line to get out of the fest...they're even making us wait to leave... #PokémonGo https://t.co/MPDX9OwrM8July 22, 2017
It's gotten so bad that in the time it's taken me to write this Niantic has apparently taken to the stage to offer refunds for tickets and $100 of in-game currency.
Everyone registered for Go Fest will get $100 of Pokecoins in their accounts.#PokemonGOFestJuly 22, 2017
Apparently things are starting to work now and people are playing but, at five hours into the event, it might be too late. Niantic CMO Mike Quigley appearing on stage to announce "this is not the way we had the day planned" is, so far, quite the understatement.
[Update: Niantic has now extended the capture radius for rare Pokemon to 2 miles outside of the event.]