A tale of two Fests - GoFest vs PanicFest

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There is what is, what was meant to be and what was.  There are many stories, many perceptions coming out of Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago.

Update: Profit and Lawsuits
The hijinx of GoFest have now culminated into two different things.  On one hand the company has begun raking in money hand over fist making over 5 million dollars on multiple days during the Legendary Raids.  
The other thing that has happened is that a lawsuit is forming.  While I don't think everyone should have a claim against Niantic I do think the people that traveled internationally and had their expectations crushed may deserve more than what was provided by the game developer.  It seems some fans are pursuing legal action and are suing Niantic.  Polygon reports that:

“Chicago-based attorney Thomas Zimmerman said he was contacted by Jonathan Norton, a California local who traveled to the area for the event. Since then, Zimmerman told Polygon that “20 or 30” others have joined the class-action suit.”

Its hard to guage how far this will go.  20-30 people is not too large and the company as we have previousily stated is pulling in a lot of money from the Legendary Raids.  I would not be surprised if Niantic quickly settled just to make the this and the bad publicity from GoFest go away.

Original Post: Pokemon Go Fest was meant to be a crowning achievement of the revolutionary game Pokemon Go.  Thousands of players were meant to congregate in a set up location for the reveal of Legendary Pokemon and play with each other.  While other players around the world helped in various ways and recieved rewards of their own.  This was trully designed to be a global party, a global event on a scale no other game has concieved of much less attempted to pull off. 

However, much like the Titantic for all its promise, was not able to voyage safely over the frigid waters of reality, the event hit an iceberg and quickly sunk.  In this case the Iceberg was the fact that the cellular networks were unable to handle the highly densified crowd bombarding their local towers.  Only Sprint sent extra network support on wheels.  Leaving players on the other networks with no ability to play the game.

The event planners had no back up plan.  There were not other activities for the players to do, the plan was for them to play the game.  Now there was a massive crowd in the hot sun, with nothing to do and that crowd quickly turned angry and even a bit mobbish.  The crowd control of the event from the git go was reported as being spotty with long wait times to enter a park.  The park itself was described as being far too small for the crowd.  Fans reported hour long waits to enter and over 20 minute lines to leave.

The CEO of Niantic came on stage to talk to the crowd in what should have been a moment for him to bask in the achievement of his compnay and to be wowed by his hardcore fans glowing adoration but he was instead quickly booed off the stage.  While good news did come out of the event as some managed to connect and catch the legendary Pokemon, so to did streams of negative tweets.  Many international fans who had spent thousands to attend the event were extremely frusterated.

The event planners extended the radius of the event out past the boundaries of the park, and this did begin to ease some of the players technical issues.

First here is the official word from Niantic after the event:
First through a spokesperson to a group of press:
“Obviously they can’t completely make it up to all the people who have come out to Chicago today, but they want to extend the fact that they’re extremely apologetic and unhappy with the process and the results,”...“So hopefully this is something that we will never see replicated again, learn from this and move on.”
“Just know that the staff here are pretty horrified with the results, so they want to make good as fast as possible,”

Some tweets from Pokemon Go fest that help tell the tale of what was!  You can see positive stories of people meeting up, of legendary raids that did work, and you can also see the frustation of fans who failed to connect and take part in the event.

The culmination of all the angst was the CEO of Niantic getting booed off the stage. Not a glorious moment.

Where do we go from here?  Obviousily the big issue is that cellular infrastructure needs to be greatly boosted in an area before one of these events occures again.   The question remains if the network carriers are willing to partner and cooperate with a game to do this.  If they won't play ball then game will need to greatly rethink its strategy of having all players in a single location.

In hindsight, having been in the events business I think a lot of should have been foreseeable.  Hiring a few event people does not transform a video game company into a big event planner.  The size of this event is also mind boggling, and has a technical aspect that no other event in history has had.  While Niantic's plan were bold, they may have been too bold.  They may need to redesign these events to a scale that they can handle.  What could have been the game's crowning achievement, has now become a major embarrasement and instead of drawing in new players, the game is now getting waves of critism.

That said Legendary Raids are now occuring everywhere and I hope to catch my own one soon.  That's right I did not play Pokemon Go yesterday instead I went fishing and caught a few trout, it was awesome.  It was in some sense what Pokemon Go hopes to mimmic, beautiful scenery, commraderie and interaction with nature.  The game just is not there yet.  After this weekend there is an open question if it will ever be.

Toylab Original Update - Pokemon Go Fest and Legendary Raids:
This is how we originally described Go Fest before it occured.

Legendary Raids will debut in Pokemon Go.  There will be a new type of Raid Pass called a Legendary Raid pass.

On July 23, Pokemon Go players will be congregating in Chicago for Pokemon Go Fest. At Pokemon Go Fest the players will be able to take part in the first Legendary Raid.  The players there will need to complete various challenges.  From what I have heard the players there will need to catch a certain amount of Pokemon that day to qualify for the Legendary Raid.  Then if players in Chicago manage to catch the Legendary Pokemon that same Legendary Raid will begin appearing throughout local gyms across the world.

Niantic is trying to balance the hardcore players going to Chicago with everyone else.  Thus challenges throughout the world will exist that day that will help out the players in GoFest.  In turn if the players at GoFest are successful there will be rewards for everyone throughout the world.  Instead, of making one group have an advantage the developers are trying to create a symbiotic / team base relationship.

I have never seen an attempt to do anything like this with any game, EVER.  This really is historical even if you are not a Pokemon Go fan you have to sit back and smile.

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