Pokemon Go developer Niantic hosted the game’s first official live meet-up this past Saturday at Chicago’s Grant Park, but the event was infamously mired by technical issues that prevented many attendees from being able to play the game (and resulted in some incredibly awkward moments on its livestream). Now, company CEO John Hanke has written a lengthy post on Niantic’s website explaining what went wrong at the event.
“Technical issues with our game software caused client crashes and interfered with gameplay for some users,” Hanke explains. “A more protracted problem was caused by oversaturation of the mobile data networks of some network providers. 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.”
Regarding the network issues, Niantic says it had prepared for the event by providing “detailed estimates on attendance and required data throughput per user to our event partner,” and some carriers “deployed Cellular on Wheels (COWs) to extend their capacity,” though many attendees were still unable to access the game. “Wi-Fi was enabled by one provider as a solution which helped some users but not all. Sprint was onsite as an official partner, deployed a COW, and their network was busy but held up well,” Hanke says.
The Pokemon Go Fest event was organized as a way to give players a chance to capture Pokemon together and take part in cooperative challenges, which would ultimately unlock the game’s first Legendary Pokemon. However, due to the number of technical issues players encountered, many weren’t able to take part in its activities or complete its challenge windows.
Niantic issued an apology to fans for the issues and gave attendees full refunds, as well as $100 in PokeCoins. The developer also unlocked the game’s first two Legendary Pokemon, Lugia and Articuno, for players around the world. You can read our guide on how to capture the Legendary Pokemon here. The other Legendary birds Zapdos and Moltres will begin appearing as special Raid Battles very soon as well. Niantic has also extended the amount of time players have to take advantage of the bonuses that were unlocked as part of the event.
A number of other live Pokemon Go events are planned throughout the summer, including Safari Zone events in Europe that will give players a chance to encounter Pokemon that don’t normally spawn in the region. Niantic is hoping to use the lessons it learned from Chicago’s problematic event to ensure the remaining ones go more smoothly. “We will be incorporating all of our learnings into the Pokémon Go events planned for later this summer in Yokohama, Japan and across Europe,” Hanke says.
“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,” Hanke concludes.