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Refunds as Pokemon fest beset by glitches

Organisers did a valiant job of keeping attendees upbeat despite the issues

As many as 20,000 attendees at a Pokemon Go festival in Chicago are being offered refunds after technical glitches meant fans were mostly unable to catch anything – let alone “them all”.

Disappointed fans will also be offered $100 in the form of the app’s in-game currency, Pokecoins.

The event on Saturday had been touted as a chance for fans to come together and catch some of the rarest monsters on the hugely successful app.

But fans booed and chanted “fix our game!” and “we can’t play!” as executives from Niantic, the game’s creator, attempted to explain the problems.

At one point a bottle was thrown at a presenter on stage – it missed.

Pokemon Go was launched last summer and has since been downloaded over 750 million times, reportedly making more than $1bn in revenue. The game required players to walk around the real world in order to find monsters in different locations.

Fans had hoped to catch rare Pokemon at the event in Chicago's Grant ParkImage copyrightNIANTIC
Image captionFans had hoped to catch rare Pokemon at the event in Chicago’s Grant Park

On Saturday, in Chicago’s Grant Park, fans had hoped to find some species of Pokemon that were otherwise not available or extremely rare.

Tickets to the event sold out within around 10 minutes of going on sale, leading to many tickets being resold at almost 10 times their face value.

‘Worst time’

But the festival succumbed to a combination of overwhelmed mobile networks, and several bugs that Niantic admitted were “on our side”.

“We know that this is not the day that we had all envisioned,” Mike Quigley, the firm’s chief marketing officer, told angry attendees.

“But we appreciate your patience.”

As well as the technical problems, long lines prevented many ticket holders from getting into the event for more than three hours.

“This is the worst time I have ever had doing anything,” tweeted one fan, who later left.

In an attempt to fix the issues, the company increased the radius of the event by a further two miles, meaning players could leave Grant Park in order to try and connect to the game and get access to the rare creatures.

And just before 6pm local time, attendees were told they would all get a Lugia – a Pokemon that had not been available on the game before, an announcement that drew big cheers from an otherwise dejected crowd.