A nightmare scenario is unfolding for Pokémon Go developer Niantic Labs. Technical glitches are plaguing the first Pokémon Go Fest, a festival that has attracted thousands of the game’s fans to Chicago’s Grant Park. According to multiple reports, many attendees can’t log into or play the game.
The issues were so severe that Niantic CEO John Hanke was heckled loudly when he took the stage this afternoon, with angry fans shouting and chanting “We can’t play!”, “Fix the game!”, and “Fix the servers!”
The root of the problem is still unclear. Some reports have described issues with the game's servers, while a statement made to news site Business Insider by Niantic suggests the problem might be insufficient data coverage by mobile carriers including AT&T.
The outages are particularly enraging because the convention coincides with the rollout of a series of special in-game events and prizes. That included new Pokémon only available at the event, as well as perks for players worldwide that require collaboration with players in Chicago. The local disruption seems to have broken those features for some players elsewhere, as well.
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Niantic has now reportedly announced from the event stage that it will refund attendees the $20 cost of their tickets, and give them $100 worth of in-game tokens. That may be cold comfort, since some tickets were reportedly scalped for far more than their initial price, and fans traveled from as far away as Australia and Europe to attend.