'Pokémon Go Fest' issues refunds after tech problems ruin event

Overloaded cell networks, servers crashed the game's first real-life event.

After an up and down first year of existence, the Pokémon Go Fest was supposed to be a triumphant event where players could work together in news ways and earn unique awards. The event unfortunately suffered as cell networks and the game's servers couldn't keep up with the strain, preventing many attendees who had traveled from around the world from participating. Niantic Labs CEO John Hanke was actually booed when he appeared at the event, and later in the day the company announced it would refund attendees for their ticket costs, add $100 in PokéCoins to their accounts and give them the Legendary Pokémon Lugia.

The issues, and Niantic's inability to deal with them before they derailed the event, recalled many of the problems Pokémon Go has dealt with since its launch. Incredibly popular right out of the gate, the game suffered with significant instability for months, and still occasionally has problems preventing players for logging in now. It's the first augmented reality game with participation and appeal on a massive scale, but putting its most hardcore players through a day like yesterday is just another strike against it, even as the money continues to roll in.

For those who are still trying to catch them all, however, there are some new updates. If you're in the Chicago area, special areas from the Fest have been expanded across a two mile area around Grant Park through Monday morning. For players everywhere, there are a number of bonuses that will be available through Monday evening at 8PM ET:

  • Double Stardust

  • Double Candy

  • Double XP

  • Increased Pokémon encounters

  • Reduced hatching distance

  • Reduced buddy distance

Also, beginning today, Legendary raids have been unlocked, featuring Lugia as well as Articuno monsters. They will be joined "soon" by Zapdos and Moltres.