After the storm: Pokémon GO Fest and the long term future of Pokémon GO

Pokémon GO Fest
Pokémon GO Fest

“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