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Pokémon Go Fest plagued with server issues as fans demand fixes from Niantic

“Fix the game!”

Fans at Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago.
Fans at Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago.
Allegra Frank/Polygon

After Pokémon Go Fest kicked off this morning in Chicago’s Grant Park, it wasn’t long before players experienced their worst fear: widespread server issues that prevented them from logging in.

Cell reception is already spotty on the scene here in Chicago — I’ve been fighting it since I arrived — but a potential overload on the game’s networks have made it impossible for many players to log in at all.

During the event’s on-stage opening ceremony, players made Niantic CEO John Hanke painfully aware of the game’s current issues. Cries of “Fix the game!” and “Fix the servers!” drowned out Hanke’s remarks, and more frustrated players even booed him when he came on stage.

pokemon go fest stage
The stage of Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago
Allegra Frank/Polygon

That’s a problem when players drove and flew in from places as widespread as Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Canada and even Japan. Pokémon Go Fest’s main draw is the ability to catch Pokémon that are rare, even impossible to find in the Chicago area ... so if the servers aren’t working, that means no one is able to hunt down those Unown, Heracross and Kangaskhan they traveled far and wide for.

The biggest issue is that Pokémon Go Fest has three separate challenge windows for players in Grant Park to complete in order to unlock the real reward. If attendees — and players worldwide — manage to hit an unknown threshold of Pokémon to catch by 6 p.m. CT, they’ll be able to enter a legendary Raid Battle. That will be our first chance to capture a surprise legendary Pokémon. But with so many players reporting they can’t connect at the event, it’s unclear if those will happen for fans.

Following Hanke’s remarks, a member of the Niantic team came on stage to say issues range from the servers to service providers, like AT&T,. Verizon and Sprint, and the company was working to address both.

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