Pokemon Go Festival a Huge Failure
Network and Server issues spelled big trouble for Niantic
Unless you have lived under a rock, you have heard of Pokemon Go. So popular that it shattered records, Pokemon Go pulled in over 200 million dollars in revenue in the first month of its launch.
Downloaded by over 750 million people, 70 countries worldwide, this augmented reality video game blew expectations out of the water. Since its release on July 6, 2016, it has made over 1 billion dollars, proving itself as the most successful mobile game to ever exist.
A Call for Celebration
To celebrate its one year birthday, Niantic decided to host a Pokemon Go Festival in Grant park, Chicago. Tickets were sold for $20 if you were quick enough to purchase them within the 15-30 minutes consumers had before they were sold out.
However, a lot of them ended up being sold on Ebay for prices ranging around $300 individually, and even some pairs being sold toward the upward price of $1000. Luckily enough for those who couldn’t break the bank, trainers stood the chance of unlocking some special rewards after the event, so far so good right?
Long Lines for Admission
Over 20,000 people were expected to be showing up to the Pokemon Go Festival, set for July 22. Spirits were high when crowds of trainers began to pour into the park. Yet things took a turn for the worse when the lines for admission became longer and longer.
Some people had to walk for half an hour or more just to find the end of the line, so undoubtedly, there was a common feeling in the air of frustration and worry. Admission began at 10 am Central time and the first event started at 11 am, some attendees actually missed it completely.
Rather quickly things became apparent that the same old problems were arising. Especially with such a large group of players gathered, technical issues was another fear.
Pokemon Go has suffered from unreliable network connectivity and server stress since day one. Shortly into the beginning of the event, these known flaws left thousands of players unable to play the game.
This became so bad that it even stopped them from logging in. After spending hundreds of dollars to attend this event to celebrate one of their favorite franchises, the technical difficulties really made it difficult for many fans to enjoy themselves.
Let The Pokemon Go Festival Begin
The CEO of Niantic, John Hanke, came on stage to begin the event only to be met by hundreds, if not thousands of players booing and yelling at him. After all, these players had traveled from all around the world to partake in this festival!
Niantic spent hours trying to bring the game back to working order, offering $100 in Pokecoins, and $20 for a full ticket refund. They did this regardless of how much money other attendees had to spend from third party vendors to get their ticket.
Niantic eventually had to strip features from the game in order to solve server overload, and some players were able to login and only access some parts of the game. Although that was not enough for some, others were just glad to be able to access the game.
Reparations for Failure
Later Niantic would announce that trainers could catch Pokemon, eggs, and check in to PokeStops featured in the festival until the end of the weekend.
Niantic also gifted a legendary Pokemon to further make amends for the event. Was that enough to ease the frustrations of many upset attendees?
Clearly if this game is going to continue to be as popular an enjoyed as it is serious changes have to be made. Constant network issues and server lag plague the game, at times doing something as simple as logging in can be impossible.
Reasons for Concern
Having this happen at a sold out event is just unacceptable. Especially from a company that has generated such incredible earnings, it certainly brings in to question Niantic’s resolve and commitment.
If Pokemon Go is big enough to create a real life event out of it, why are such issues still prevalent? Granted, the game is still relatively new and supports hundreds of millions of players worldwide. Regardless, the community expects more from Niantic.
Nobody wants to celebrate Pokemon Go by waiting in line for over an hour, packed into a small park, experiencing the same issues they always have with the game. It was a rough day for many players, although some did see the brighter side of things.
The Day was not Lost
Thousands of people did get to come together and share in their love of Pokemon Go. Trainers that once were in grade school at the time of Pokemon’s arrival in the US got to connect and form new friendships as grown adults.
The nostalgic energy covering the entire park was something special. After all, it was enough for people to flock to the area and wait in the giant lines to gain entrance to the Pokemon Go Festival.
Pokemon has Aged Very Well
I been gaming since I was six years old, and my first Pokemon game was Pokemon Blue for the GameBoy Color. Back in the day, I would play it for hours, using all of our AA batteries in the house.
I had my parents convinced that I was afraid of the dark, just so that I could squeeze an hour of gameplay before bed with the “lights on” to “help me sleep”. Even after beating it numerous times, I never lost my love for it.
I would collect the cards from the trading card game and challenge my friends to play against me even though we were too young to fully understand how to play.
From there, other Pokemon video games continued to be released. I played a couple more but as I got older I began to lose that fondness and purchased a console instead of a handheld device.
A Bright Future
Years later, many more Pokemon games have come out, and generations of people have gotten to experience the game not just in the US, but all over the world. It is still an obsession for millions of people, so much that Niantic decided to release Pokemon Go.
This is a game that every fan has always wanted. It gives them the chance to walk around their towns or cities in search of the Pokemon that until now have been confined to a 2D screen. It allows them to venture to their favorite places and just wonder, could I catch anything out here?
Not only did Niantic deliver on these dreams, they released the game with the original Pokemon. This attracted people of all ages, even my parents, who tried it and remembered some of the old Pokemon.
Pokemon Go is King
Regardless of how this Pokemon Go Festival went, it isn’t going to stop Niantic. The game is going to become better, (eventually!) to a point where there are very few problems.
Hopefully network issues and server lag won’t last forever, so that Pokemon Go Festivals become even more popular. I’m looking forward to the next Festival, and have high hopes for the future of the game. Perhaps next time, people will get their money’s worth, and then some!
Onward to More Pokemon Go
Given all its shortcomings, was the Festival a failure?
Most people would say yes based on the, but at the same time, it proved that thousands of gamers, families, and friends across many generations can come together to celebrate a video game.
It gives me hope that gaming communities will grow to be more social, and not sit inside all day, cooped up away from other people.
Keep it up Niantic, the community is there and Pokemon is not going to lose it’s momentum any time soon.