Pokemon Go Fest Derailed by Abysmal Cell Service and Server Issues in Chicago

Chants of “we can’t play!” greeted the game’s developers

“Pokemon Go” was the gaming sensation of Summer 2016 but it’s still popular enough to host an entire festival around it, aptly titled Pokemon Go Fest. Unfortunately, it’s not going quite as planned.

The gathering was the first live event sponsored by the game’s developer, Niantic, but instead of finding special rewards and new levels, the thousands of Pokemon Go Fest attendees have been throttled by poor cell service and server issues in Chicago’s Grant Park. And they were not happy about it, mercilessly booing Niantic CEO John Hanke when he came to the stage on Saturday.

“We can’t play!” shouted several in the crowd.


The gathering was eagerly anticipated by the game’s fans, with tickets being resold online for 10-times the original $20 price tag. Many flew in from out of state to attend Pokemon Go Fest, only to be stymied by the connection problems — rendering the game unplayable for much of the day. Up to 20,000 gamers were expected at the festival.


Niantic has tried to put out the fire, offering attendees a $20 refund on their tickets and $100 worth of “Pokécoins”  — the app’s in-game currency. (That’s almost as good as real money!) With boos still raining down, Niantic chief marketing officer Mike Quigley telling the crowd, “It’s a small gesture, but we’re sorry.”

The offering didn’t seem to appease the masses much, with water bottles being thrown on stage.