It’s no exaggeration to say that last year’s Pokemon Go Fest was a complete and total disaster. It made a ton of money – almost $6M on the second day alone – but the PR fallout was epic, as thousands of people who paid to attend couldn’t actually get into the event park and thousands more couldn’t connect to the game once inside thanks to overloaded cell networks. On top of the logistical nightmare, the event turned out to be a pay-to-win debacle too. When Niantic CEO John Hanke took the stage to calm everyone and apologize, he was met with boos from his own die-hard fans. A spokesperson later said the studio was “horrified” with the way the event turned out and refunded all players for their tickets (and then some). That didn’t stop players who’d paid to travel long distances to Chicago for the event from forging ahead with a class-action lawsuit, which Niantic quite recently settled to the tune of $1.5M.
Since then, Niantic has run several successful events of a similar magnitude to last year’s Chicago event, including a massive festival in Yokohama, and they’ve all gone well, which must surely give the company courage for announcing a series of summer events dubbed Pokemon Go Summer Tour 2018.
“Our biggest North American event is back with a brand-new look! Pokemon Go Fest returns to Chicago from July 14 to July 15. Pokemon Go Fest 2018: A Walk in the Park will offer a unique, immersive play experience unseen anywhere else that will create a daylong adventure for Trainers. The event will be held in the city’s historic Lincoln Park, with a 1.8-mile walking course that, among the tree-lined greenery, will include exclusive activities for Trainers of all ages. Single-day passes go on sale on May 11 for $20 on our event website.”
Europeans will be headed to Dortmund, Germany, the last weekend of June, with a similar event in Yokosuka, Japan, later in the summer.
It sounds as if Niantic is attempting to head off new pay-to-win concerns too, by promising that those who can’t attend will still “be able to engage in a variety of activities and challenges, so you’ll be able to take part no matter where you are.”
Thinking about going back to the game? This morning, MOP’s resident POGO expert Andrew Ross published a piece on just how far the game has come since its wild launch in 2016. You could also get caught up on our coverage of last year’s disastrous event and the ensuing legal fallout: