“Sleep on it” — the best piece of advice we heard yesterday.

And sleep we did, afraid of a doomsday scenario where the game experiences a complete downfall, only to wake up to a brand new world of Pokémon GO: a world where players united, swallowed deep and gave up on the GO Fest dream.

Give us the benefit of doubt and visit your local (urban, not rural) Poké hub. You will likely see loads of players (and spoofers), playing and enjoying together in an effort to defeat Articunos and Lugias. However, as expected, they are also very, very vocal in their disgruntlement towards Niantic.

We need to put some things into perspective, as everything that went down yesterday needs to be carefully unwrapped. A lot of bad things happened, but a number of amazing things also happened, and all of it is this crazy mess called “GO Fest”.


The good parts

We know that most readers are interested in “the bad parts”, but let’s start with the good stuff. A number of great things happened yesterday and they deserve a mention.

  • Despite everything that happened at the GO Fest, worldwide players reap the benefit and nothing really bad or game threatening has happened.
  • We’ve got Legendaries. Niantic didn’t fail to release them, they don’t require a special Raid Pass and they’re quite Challenging.
  • We’ve got the worldwide bonuses. No matter how angry you are, the sheer fact that every in game action has been boosted is amazing.
  • We’ve got an amazing sale in the store. Yes, it’s still a sale, but it’s great, the prices are good, the rewards are strong and it’s a fair deal.
  • Niantic has admitted their mistakes, refunded tickets and learned a very harsh lesson.
  • Worldwide engagement is on an all time high.

And now, let’s see what went wrong. Here be dragons.


Everything that went wrong on the GO Fest

In short, every piece of required event infrastructure has refused to work. The cell coverage, the live stream, the game servers, everything went down. It’s a harsh place to be in, but it’s almost completely organisers fault. This is not something you can’t avoid.

Joe Merrick (of Serebii fame) had the harshest, but one of the most honest, comments about the event:

Cell coverage

Cell coverage is mandatory and should be provided by the organiser, either by collaborating with carriers or through mobile base station rentals. There is a number of companies offering stress testing, load balancers, full stack equipment for on-site networking and auxiliary cell network infrastructure. This should never ever happen.

For the past three years our home country, Croatia, has been the host of the Ultra Europe festival. Each year, Ultra is attended by more than 100,000 party goers. With the exception of 2016, there were never issues with cell phone coverage or data availability. If this is possible in Croatia, with our aging infrastructure and spotty coverage, it’s also possible in USA.

The Live Stream

The live stream was a complete disaster, both in quality of content and availability. This surprised us the most, as live streaming has been around for almost a decade now, with incredible streams happening almost every week.

Technical difficulties aside, the quality of content was abysmal. There was not enough content for a live stream, the pre recorded clips were mostly boring, plagued with technical issues and completely untimely.


The conclusion and the aftermath

Despite all the negativity and disappointment, life goes on and so does Pokémon GO. GO Fest has failed, but that’s “only” 25000 disappointed players, which is roughly 0.038461538% of the player base. Not that bad when you look at it from a numbers perspective.

Niantic has shown that they are passionate, but understaffed and not prepared. On the other hand, players have shown that they’re dedicated and incredibly engaged, despite everything. Expect that guy who threw the water bottle, he’s just an *****.

We’re still playing, and we’re definitely not alone. Yesterday, more than 350,000 people visited the Hub, showing their support on Twitter, Facebook and on our Forum. Your are not alone.

We want to finish this article with a famous quote from World of Warcraft, another game that was both a smash success and a cultural phenomena:

“You are not prepared!” — Illidan Stormrage

 

  • Mark Guinup

    I went to Go Fest with my 8 year old son and your missing a few things. As an avid sports fan I’ve been to plenty of events with 50-100,000 people and It took us longer to get into Go Fest than any other event I’ve ever attended. The lines were literally miles long wrapping back in on themselves. There’s no reason it took over 2 and a half hours to get in from simply checking our bags and scanning our wrist bands. Once you got it the communication about what was happening with the networks and servers was horrible because they didn’t have speakers in half the park so we relied on word of mouth to keep is updated in that mud pit. The only thing that saved the event was niantic increasing the rare and ultra rare spawn radius to 2 miles around the event to encourage players to disperse more which helped immensely. There was no tech support anywhere so most of us helped each other do things like switch networks back to 3G etc… to try to figure out solutions to the madness. I expected there to be flaws Bc it was niantic but I didn’t expect what I got. The one thing I learned yesterday was the Pokémon community is filled with lots of people willing to help each other to make sure everyone was having as good a time as possible. As far as the refunds go. Do they really think their $30 is going to make up for the fuel costs, air fares and hotels that thousands of us spent. I’m not a negative person and try to find the silver lining in everything but I had enough yesterday when my son was crying because the servers wouldn’t let him log in or would kick him out of catching things like unknown, or batting the raid bosses. The only way to describe this is Pokémon FAIL! They may have “only” disappointed 25k fans but they disappointed 25k of the most serious players. I hope Niantic gets their act together because this truly is a wonderful game.

    • Brad

      While cell coverage may have been less than optimal in Chicago the biggest problem was SERVER lag, this has nothing to do with cell coverage. Know why I can say this with a degree of certainty? Because iwas over 1500 miles away in El Paso TX and the game was unplayable due to server lag. The game would lock up, restart, etc….
      Get your schtuff together Niantic!

      • hkmaly

        Considering even on normal days I’m getting network errors DIRECTLY UNDER CELL TOWER I would definitely say cell coverage is not only thing they need to work on. Although maybe it’s not servers but something in how game talks to them? Was better before raids.
        PS: I’m in Europe.

        • David Wawrzyniak

          Just and FYI, directly under a cell tower is not the greatest place for service to begin with… just saying

          • hkmaly

            Well … I don’t have many options. The gym is building and the cell tower (or “tower”) is on it’s roof. Still, the phone reports maximal coverage (four bars).

        • G-Walla

          Directly under a tower isn’t a good place to be. They transmit out, not down.

      • Spetsen

        The biggest problem for people attending Go Fest was cell coverage. Know why I can say this with a degree of certainty? Because I was in the park, unable to even access the internet (where the servers are “located”).

    • GonzoI

      Seeing what happened to you, they disappointed more than 25k fans. They will have to have a successful event before I ever try to buy tickets again (I was in the mass of people trying to get the “buy tickets” button to load for 6 minutes). A lot of us heard about the mile of line and were suddenly very glad to have failed to get a ticket.

      To be fair, I would have paid all the costs of going to GO Fest to be in that 2 mile radius yesterday with Unown and Heracross spawns and a massive crowd for legendary raids, but standing in a mile long line in summer heat for hours is absolutely unacceptable.

    • Phillip M. Hicks

      Waited in line at 630am and they wouldn’t let us in until 1030am…30 minutes til after they were suppose to open.

  • Marcus Elmore

    Niantic is the joke of the game developer community. Iv been upset with them since they marginalized me with the gym rework. such a bittersweet victory seeing them show their true colors when the lights were brightest.

    • alliejo

      I’m sure they’ll take being a billionaire “joke”. Niantic is amazing because they came out with this amazing concept of gaming that no one had touched on yet. They are the pioneers. No one knows how to handle this type of real time, out in the world game, and there are going to be plenty of mistakes along the way.

      • Marcus Elmore

        Of course they will; they are venture capitalists not game developers. They got what they wanted (money) and more power to them but their game is on life support how many more profitable months do they have left without delivering meaningful content

        • alliejo

          Being that it’s Pokemon.. probably a long time. All they have to do is keep releasing new content ie. Gen 3, Gen 4, and people will still play. They can put off trading and everything else as long as they need to. People will complain, but they will still play.

          • Marcus Elmore

            I agree and disagree. The Pokémon title buys them a larger than normal amount of time. But without quality content (trading pvp or some sort of skill bass) they are simply missing the golden opportunity to have a game to span decades. This could have easily been the next league of legends if the game developer wasn’t a venture capitalists only seeking short term profits

          • GonzoI

            Keep in mind that they’re drawing out more players, even after the falloff, than the main series. A lot of people are getting something out of this that keeps them playing, even if it’s not what it should be.

          • Marcus Elmore

            True. But the main games have been around for almost 20 years now. Pokémon go should still be in beta testing or sold to a real developer is all I’m saying

          • GonzoI

            Niantic has the map data expertise in AR gaming right now, which is a major hurdle to anyone trying to buy GO off them. I have done some testing and phone GPS really is as bad as GO when you aren’t driving in a straight line to interpret. Their code is bad, but they are the undisputed leaders of map integration. I would agree they came out of Beta too soon, but it can’t be undone now. They went into gaming with a startup mentality with Ingress and got away with it, so they did it again with GO.

          • Marcus Elmore

            Lol have you played ingress; it’s not fun. Hanke basically made google maps and did ingress on the side. He got lucky and landed the Pokémon name to basically overlay on his already created data. I like Pokémon go don’t get me wrong, I just think the people that created it arnt real gamers per say.

          • GonzoI

            No, I haven’t. A number of Ingress players have tried to get me to, but one time consuming game dragging me out in 110° weather is enough. Whether or not it’s good is utterly irrelevant. Symantic can’t write a decent user interface to save their lives, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re leaders in security tech. Walmart can’t seem to figure out how to clean their stores, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’re the leaders in retail.

            Niantic has the established expertise in doing games based on map data. They may not be particularly great at it, but you need the base or you don’t have a game at all. They themselves have said their goal is to create a platform which others can create map AR games on.

            A side note – these are branched off of casual gaming. They’re not supposed to be “real gamer” games any more than Flappy Bird, Angry Birds, or Candy Crush are “real gamer” games. If you want augmented reality FPS, play laser tag. If you want augmented reality Diablo, go to Texas in summer.

      • Pokemon GO is a simple copy of Ingress. They did this already with the same idea!

        • alliejo

          Ummm everyone knows that?? Lol. Ingress doesn’t even remotely touch the audine that go reaches.

  • Roelf Brouwer

    It’s America. Sure this never happened in Europe. I think they have under estimate the impact of this event. Look at the 4-day walk of Nijmegen in Holland. We can make a Pokémon Fest great again😉

    • hkmaly

      What I don’t understand is how they could underestimate the number of attendees when they knew exactly how many will attend based on tickets.

    • Paul Davies

      Events can be done right, look at the Chester event in UK, the difference was they didn’t hype it as much and people were spread over a larger area so less stress on the service providers.
      Too many players in such a small area was always going to cause problems, I find it hard to believe they didn’t see it coming and didn’t come prepared with a plan B.
      They have upset a lot of players in Chicago but from what I’ve seen today is the game is more popular than ever. We had massive groups of people walking from legendary raid to the next one across Bristol, I’ve met more players in my town in the last few days, raids are definitely bringing people together.
      If niantic do another event they need to look at what Chester did and do smaller scale events over larger area.

  • I Don’t Read this

    The big problem with GO fest was the server issues and the lines caused by the HUGE crowds. They could fix that next year, if they are still around. They could spread the locations for GO fest out across the US and have them at about 7-8 locations, and spread them out over a week or 2, so Hanke can go from one location to another. Here are some location ideas:
    Central Park, NYC
    Grant Park, Chicago
    Denver, CO
    LA, CA
    Seattle, WA
    Houston, TX (extra water and shade, maybe AC)
    Tallahassee, FL

    • GonzoI

      They could just put a pre-recorded video of Hanke and have it on the big screen. 99.9% of us weren’t wanting to go to see the CEO, we were wanting to go to see the other players, the event pokemon, and participate in the game elements of the event. They could even work out a hosting system where outside groups (who actually know what they’re doing, unlike Niantic) do the hosting. I’ve been to conventions with 70k people in St. Louis and had no trouble getting in, and no cell reception issues. The organizers of any of these cons (and several of them are big corporations who would gladly take on Niantic as a small-time client) could have done this and made it a huge success. The tickets would have cost about twice as much, but I doubt anyone would have cared. With the right partners, they could have had it simultaneously in dozens of major cities (which is what many of us thought they meant by working out the logistics for legendary events), each giving their own local flair to the event. Reduce the load on the game to a set of pokestops, gyms and spawn points that are only visible to people who buy their tickets in-game, scan a unique QR code off their ticket or some other spoof-preventing mechanism, and they don’t even need someone from Niantic at each location.

    • Dan

      Central Park won’t work. There’s no way NYC would allow them to shut down Central Park without charging an exorbitant amount of money. Tickets to that event would cost $200+, easy. I would put Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park on the list. It’s an insanely large park, and they wouldn’t need the whole thing, so they’d only need to shut down a small portion of it. For Florida, I would only do Tampa Bay or Miami area. Seattle and Denver are probably the best options out of these.

  • Jason

    World of Warcraft whew! But as crazy of a day as it was.. we got #1 all the bonuses double stardust candy etc.. #2 Legendaries unlocked for people that went to Go Fest.. #3 Legendaries unlocked for people around the world.. those were the goals we wanted even if the event itself sucked and the people that did go are getting refunds plus 100 in pokecoins.. so yea after the dust settles we got everything we wanted just was not this amazing special day for the people at Go Fest hopefully most of them have time to enjoy the weekend in Chicago and still can catch some rare spawns and do the special 2k eggs through Monday as well as Legendaries and also got to meet some new people

  • Josh Hack

    The way it appears to me is that Niantic spent so much time with their anti-spoofer QR system that they were mainly oblivious to the problems at the event itself.

  • The Big K

    I admit it was the worst disaster since the Chicago Fire. The service was impossible. Super Laggy, and the content was atrocious. But, this is a lesson that Niantic needs to take in order to make next year, and future events successful. Hopefully the refund, the $100 Pokécoins and the Free Lugia in our inventory will somehow soothe the Fest goers.

  • Antonio Mercurio

    I could not care less about what happend at Pokemon Go fest, niantic were creating the disaster and people fell into the trap. If people traveled and spent Huge amounts of money i dont think it was worth it. The first event would be the worst and the event would get better and better

  • vision33r

    Nice Beta testing

  • Antonio Mercurio

    Im actually suprised that people went to the event thinking that their would be no problems, but thats what i thought as well

  • Sam Burton

    I’m sorry to say this but the fact of the matter here is that PoGo has gone from bad to worse.

    I’m lvl 35 and have played since release. I have stopped playing daily because of so many things that ruin the game.

    This pogohub website is putting this issue very lightly because the website depends on pogo for it’s success.

    Shame on Niantic and shame on anyone else sugar coating this ongoing dismal display of game development.

    #fail

    • GonzoI

      I’m level 36, and I disagree. I won’t be going to a sponsored event anytime soon after this disaster, but despite an insane heat wave here, the past 2 days have been incredible. I am in a small town where it’s hard to get 5 players for a Tyranitar raid even with the hype that generated, but the excitement over Legendary raids had enough people playing that we actually had to split up into 2 raid groups on one last night. And despite the lag and glitches, it was fun. Niantic failed in their planning once again, but it isn’t “sugar coating” to highlight the good parts.

      Even the ones at the event had fun once the abandoned Grant Park. Watch the videos. The crowds were cheering and excited running around Chicago.

      7 hours of failure and months of not realizing 25k is a lot of people are inexcusable for a physical location event, but there is a lot of good to report on too.

      • Sam Burton

        Yes, the raids have been fun, but there is so much about the game right now that lets it down, you will have to excuse folk like myself who are quite disappointed and disheartened with the game as a whole.

        • GonzoI

          I was replying to you saying “shame on anyone else sugar coating this”. You’re entitled to be disappointed, disheartened, or whatever other emotions this brings up in you. But you’re not entitled to shame others for not echoing what you felt.

          • Sam Burton

            actually, i can shame anyone sugar coating crap tbh.

          • GonzoI

            You’re just shaming people who don’t share your opinion with that false label. Don’t pretend that it’s “ok” to take it out on those who didn’t solely focus on what you focused on just because YOU are upset.

          • Sam Burton

            lol, it sounds more like you’re the one crying here!

            look, bottom line… the game is good but is ruined by the large pile of bullshit Niantic won’t properly address…they cover alot of the crap with these events, end extensions to the events…..and it looks like the most recent “organised” event was the biggest steaming pile of turd to date. this exposes the people running the game even further.

            I still play it because i have put hours of time, walking and effort into it. there is still some fun to be had, but this is short lived because of the fundamental problems with the game. sorry if i upset you, move on and get over it.

  • WingedSupernova

    The only silver lining was that by the time I left Sunday I had 10 Unown, 14 Heracross, and each legendary. My dex is now completed and the only wounds I received were from the sun, walking around so much, and pushing my mother around in a wheelchair all day.

  • Rishi Tiwari

    I live in Chicago right next to Grant park, did not attend GO fest but did participate in the legendary raids last night and today. One thing Pokemon GO fest has created is a swarm of spoofers coming to Chicago. I did multiple raids today with maybe 5 physical people tops, that’s still 5 more people than I usually see at the raids. These are raid locations I frequent as I live in the area, and when I usually go I am the only one there along with maybe a few spoofers. Tyranitar raids attract the most spoofers usually putting the lobby to 20, and the same with these legendaries. GO fest was just a beacon for spoofers.

  • Leo Cheung

    what happened to legendary pass… legendary raid medal… and that only active players who have completed hundreds of raids can join legendary raids..

  • Kevin Fox

    It’s funny you use illidan to close the article, when hearing about go fest I couldn’t help but wonder how this game could immensely benefit by partnering with Blizzard in some way. Blizzard is all too familiar with their games exploding in popularity along with longevity. Blizzard has its BlizzCon and tournaments, Niactic could use a few pointers on coordinating events on a large scale. Most of all, If this were ever to happen, I think blizzard would be able to help niactic with just bringing the Pokémon world to life. Whether it being graphics, or making the Pokémon’s virtual world tangible or making its presence known in the real world. Just a funny feeling I get about that partnership, but I feel like it could help Niactic soar in its delivery of quality, stability, and more. In turn Blizzard could benefit from this in a advertising point of view and maybe take a few ideas from Niactic to bring their game(s) more mobile or even VR, one example could be battle pets in WoW 😜

  • Diskus1

    ” there were never issues with cell phone coverage or data availability. If this is possible in Croatia, with our aging infrastructure and spotty coverage, it’s also possible in USA.”

    I think this is where a BIG issue lies. Events like this happens all the time around the world, but it’s parties, concerts etc. People aren’t there to *use data*! Sure, you can have 100 000 people with phones on one site and cover that with extra mobile towers. But would it work if 100 000 people all started surfing the web simultaneously!? Nobody knows, because it doesn’t happen… until GO Fest!

    • Amelia Larrick

      I was at at a large technology conference in Philadelphia once and no one could access the internet which was required for our workshops. The servers kept crashing.

  • khazouss

    Did anyone notice that legendary raids do not count in completing the ‘champion’ badge?

    • GonzoI

      Interesting. They probably are supposed to count towards the Legendary badge instead, but it’s not showing up either.

  • John Truempy

    I was there from NJ yes long lines. Keep crashing, I did not have the worst cell service I am on sprint who did send Mobile towers. But all said I got a heracros and an unknown. They gave me 1 legendary a ton of in game money. But the most important part is I had a great experience just being in a place with 20,000 people who all like the same game I do and yes it is just a game remember. Something to do when not doing other stuff. So if they do another I will buy my tickets and book my flight and hotel and be there again.