Pokémon GO’s first big public event was a disaster

3 min read

Pokemon GO Chicago event was a disaster 2

Pokémon GO is still very much a phenomenon, even if you might not see it around as much as when it launched around this time last year. But it’s no question that Niantic have a feverishly passionate community following them, which made the game’s first big community event in Chicago so high stakes. Pokémon GO aficionados from all over the world flew into the city for the exclusive Pokémon hunting party, which would be the birthing ground for the game’s first Legendary Pokémon. Sadly though, things fell apart rapidly.

Long lines leading into the event (with a venue that clearly couldn’t hold the number of ticketed players) was only the first sign of growing problems. Soon after festivities kicked off the game crumbled – its servers unable to handle the volume of players from the park and worldwide players attempting to join the action. Local cellular companies were just unable to deal with the requests, leading to a park full of Pokémon players that couldn’t get into the game for more than a few seconds, if at all.

Here’s a cringe-worthy recap of the entire event, where you can see how things spiralled out of control.

Things continued to get worse from there. Niantic representatives were jeered every time they came on to stage, attempting to continue the event despite the numerous technical issues they were having. Eventually they began addressing the faults, assuring players that they were working as fast as they could to restore the game. The crowd chanted and booed as issues continued, eventually forcing Niantic to take action. They immediately announced a refund to all attendees (tickets were $20), and promised each one $100 worth of PokéCoins.

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The event itself was also shut down early, but not before Niantic made the necessary changes to the game for people to get their just reward. The event was meant to culminate in a massive final raid to take down the game’s first Legendary Pokémon, Lugia, who was instead released unceremoniously to every player in the world. All attendees could redeem Lugia for free too, as Niantic increased the radius around the park to allow for fans who had yet to get into the event to at least participate.

Team Mystic’s mascot, Articuno, was released shortly afterwards too, thanks to the efforts of Mystic players during the short-lived event. Both Legendries are now in the wild for everyone to catch, and should appear with countdowns attached to them. They’ll be tough fights, but not tougher than the one Niantic has on their hands after such a botched first event.

Last Updated: July 24, 2017

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff’s a bastard.

  • Galbedir

    So. Tough. To. Watch. Uuugggh.

  • Hammersteyn
  • HvR

  • Original Heretic

    Sounds like it was the people acting like dicks that really made this event terrible.
    Did Niantic screw up? Yes they did. But they tried to fix it.

    • HvR

      If you put someone on stage that use $avage to describe everything they do you deserve all the boo’s you are getting

  • Hammersteyn

    …challenge window trainers, so make sure you catch those last Pokemon so they count
    I lolled!

  • Matthew Holliday

    That “we cant play” chant was brutal.

    Youd have assumed theyd have learned something from their releases in the past.

    • Hammersteyn

      It’s like watching the Titanic sink all over again.

      • Matthew Holliday

        The only difference was, showing videos of them playing, asking them if theyd had a chance to fight any of the gyms yet, while they chant “we cant play”, its like Jack grew a back bone.

  • OUCH

  • And at 2% catch rate on legendaries that don’t stand still at all when you throw a ball. They would have had a lot more aggro players if they could play xD

  • Hammersteyn

    That’s not cool, don’t throw stuff.

    • humans suck man

      • MonsterCheddar

        Join me in hating the fuckers…..HUE HUE HUE HUE HUE

      • miaau

        the mensch. I see them everywhere I look. You know, them, out there.

        Fewer and fewer people.

    • He was at a Pokemon event. He was trying to capture her.

      • Hammersteyn


    • HairyEwok

      Human used splash…. but nothing happened.

      • Hammersteyn


  • Hammersteyn

    So much burn, were there only fire types at the event?

  • Team mystic wins everything anyway…



  • MonsterCheddar

    LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL. So much fail. Shame man.

  • MonsterCheddar
    • miaau

      Corn flakes can do that you know. Like a grain silo.


      What homer was probably doing to / with the innocent cornflakes does horrify me. And not a bit horrified…. very

  • Cellular tech 101 – Too many cells in a single area will most certainly kill local cell towers.

    Really should have been a consideration.

    In future check with cellular providers how many towers in an area and how much punishment they can take and plan according to that.

    Oh also check how many people a venue can take too.

    Poor planning

    • miaau

      some events here in SA organise and have the cell providers bring in “mobile” towers

      • HvR

        That is worldwide policy.

        Most towers they can just plug in more radios to increase usage 100 fold. Then as you say they can bring in mobile units.

        Niantic clearly did not even bother to notify providers about the expected numbers for the event

        • I do believe you are correct.

          Niantic stuffed up. Bad. Which is a pitty as you’d think that they learnt from their previous game they did. I forget the name now. Anyway, poor plannig. Agreed

    • Hammersteyn

      Someone got fired.

  • miaau

    The worst thing about this, for me, is the fact that A) the local cell companies could not cope with data demand in THAT area AND B) the companies online servers folded as a result of all the connections from around the globe.

    That is an epic fail. I fail to see how they thought this event through at even a basic level.

  • HairyEwok

    At least they got their tickets refunded and received $100 worth of pokecoins…… Too bad they’ll never get the time back they wasted there.

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