By many accounts, the Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago last week was a failure of epic proportions. The main thing that many festival-goers found—instead of make-believe characters in the game—was themselves standing in huge lines and without Internet at a 20,000-person party to celebrate the augmented reality game’s first year in operation.
Things were so bad that many fans couldn’t even log into the game because of server problems and overloaded cell towers at the Grant Park festival. The tickets had a face value of $20, but sold for much more on the secondary market because of high demand.
“I know that some of you guys have had trouble getting logged on this morning, and I wanted to let you know that we’re working with the cell companies—AT&T, Sprint, Verizon—trying to get that worked out,” Niantic’s chief executive, John Hanke, told the crowd July 22.
As a result of these blunders, Niantic finds itself as a defendant in a proposed class-action lawsuit (PDF) over the scarred festival. The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, seeks unspecified damages and alleges that the festival didn’t live up to Niantic’s hype. The case was brought by a California man who traveled to Chicago for the event, and it seeks to represent other aggrieved festival-goers.
“Fest attendees, many of whom like Plaintiff traveled to Chicago from other states or countries, had the reasonable expectation of arriving at Grant Park for a day of capturing rare 3D monsters with their friends, families, and other so-called Pokemon Go ‘Trainers,’ but the reality of the Fest fell flat in comparison to Defendant’s promises,” the suit said. “Upon reaching Grant Park, Fest attendees encountered a ‘three-mile line’ and an unplayable Game.”
The lawsuit added:
Due to the delayed entry into the Fest, lack of connectivity to cell towers, technical problems with Defendant’s game software, and the malfunction of Defendant’s Game server(s), attendees at the fest were unable to play the Game as Defendant’s advertising had led them to anticipate. For example, Fest-goers were unable to, inter alia, complete timed in-Game challenges to collect special rewards, collect previously unavailable or “rare” Pokemon, and compete against other ‘Trainers’ within the Game.
Had those people who purchased tickets (and paid money for travel expenses) to attend the fest… known that they would not be able to play the Game as advertised, they would not have purchased tickets or paid money to travel to and attend the Fest.
Niantic declined comment.