Niantic’s first major physical Pokémon GO event in Chicago is off to a rough start with reports of all kinds of connectivity issues, as well as massive lines of attendees still waiting to get in after the event’s start.
People who paid for tickets to Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago’s Grant Park showed up this morning with hope in their hearts and Pokéballs in their pockets, only to be greeted by seemingly endless lines of attendees. There are many posts on social media claiming people waited hours to get into the park that is too small for all the guests in the first place.
Early entry line for Pokemon Go Fest starts at Jackson/Columbus, wraps around block to LSD. #PokemonGOFest pic.twitter.com/khZFiGCvrC
— John O'Neill (@jrichardoneill) July 22, 2017
What’s more, most attendees both waiting in line and in the park couldn’t even open the Pokémon GO app to play. GameInformer first reported that the game was “unplayable” due to connectivity issues. Apparently so many people trying to load the app at once was too much for the local servers and cell towers to handle.
Some people could load the game and see the Unowns spawning, but few could actually catch any Pokémon before the app crashed.
And then, things took a nasty turn. On top of voicing their displeasure with Niantic on social media, event guests took to chanting things like, “We can’t play” and “Fix the game.” Presenters were being booed and heckled, so John Hanke, CEO of Niantic, got on stage to address everyone’s concerns.
“I know that some of you guys have had 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,” Hanke said. “And we’re working on the game server to get that worked out. So, I want to ask you guys, please know, we’ve got the whole Niantic team working against this, so please be patient with us.”
Pokémon GO Fest was supposed to feature timed challenges for both event attendees and players worldwide with a goal of unlocking a Legendary Pokémon, but with so many connectivity issues — and some people not even in the event — things aren’t looking good.
Apparently Niantic is issuing refunds and giving out $100 in Pokécoins to attendees, but players are still unhappy.