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Niantic releases apology for failed Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, blames cellphone network providers

After the Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago was deemed a failure due to players being unable to connect to the game itself, Niantic has released an official apology on the Niantic official website.

“Players were disappointed with their experience that morning, and we heard boos and shouts from the crowd,” said Niantic CEO John Hanke in the official apology.

The “boos” Hanke is referring to is when he got up on the stage to discuss the issues that Pokémon GO was having. The crowd, obviously displeased by the result of the event, started booing him. A video of the crowd’s protest can be found here.

The mobile gaming company, though, puts the blame on cellphone network providers who might’ve been unable to handle all of the data that was coming through at that one location. Verizon already fought back at Niantic’s claims, telling Business Insider that Niantic was the one to blame.

Other apps like YouTube were working for Verizon users, the spokesperson for Verizon said to Business Insider.

“Technical issues with our game software caused client crashes and interfered with gameplay for some users. The gameplay issue was resolved with a server configuration change and the crashes were also addressed for many but not all users. A more protracted problem was caused by oversaturation of the mobile data networks of some network providers,” said Hanke in the official apology. “This caused many attendees to be unable to access Pokémon GO or other Internet services. Network congestion also led to a login issue which affected some users able to access the Internet. This latency-related login issue was addressed with a second Niantic configuration change.”

Hanke said that Niantic specifically warned cellphone network providers in the area about the event, and while some providers took necessary measures, others thought that the network would be fine with the amount of people attending the event.

As a result of the failed event, Niantic gave players who showed up a refund and $100 in PokéCoins, released more Pokémon to the surrounding area for players to go out and catch (probably to get them away from the park, where the connectivity problems were occurring) and later gave all attendees the two Legendary Pokémon that have just been released for the game, Lugia and Articuno.

Hanke also mentioned that despite the failed event, over 7.7 million Pokémon were captured (which includes 440,000 Legendary Pokémon). Players around the world captured more than 500 million Pokémon, so it seems not everything about the event was sour.

To finish off the apology, Hanke says that two more Legendary Pokémon, Moltres and Zapdos, would be made available very soon (Moltres from July 31 to August 7 and Zapdos from August 7 to August 14).

“Last Saturday was not a happy day for us but we are committed to listening to that feedback, however harsh, to improve what we do so that we can continue to build experiences that bring together people, technology, and the real world in innovative ways,” said Hanke in the official apology.

Although there is really no knowing what happened the day of the event that would cause these issues, Niantic blaming others for what happened at their event might not be the best course of action. Players have been furious with Niantic in the past due to server connectivity issues, so for the problems to arise again at such a big event (which, note, many people traveled around the world to attend), the fingers would be pointed at them again.

I think that Niantic should hold another event in the United States for players who got robbed during the Pokémon GO Fest in Chicago, since the company’s focus will be on their events in Europe and Japan. It sucks for both players and Niantic to deal with these issues, but Niantic needs to be more well-prepared for something like this in future events.

Featured image via Flickr/edowoo.

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