NIANTIC Recovers from Disastrous 2017 Event with Successful “POKEMON GO” FEST in Chicago Last Saturday

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The story is well told by this point in time; two years ago in July of 2016, mobile developer Niantic Labs launched the game app they have been crafting for Nintendo’s foray into the potentially lucrative mobile gaming market. It was called “Pokémon Go”, and for a time it was the ultimate mobile game and social phenomenon all over the world. While public interest had waned as time passed into 2017, the “Pokémon Go” community remained active enough to warrant a global anniversary event in July of that year. And now, in 2018, the second anniversary event went well.

IGN has it that Niantic has been able to successfully celebrate the second “Pokémon Go” Fest event commemorating two years of continuous operation for the “Pokémon Go” game app. Numbers have drastically fallen since the app’s high point in 2016, but as of 2018 there are still 147 million active users the world over, and their activities generated about $70 million in revenue last June, for a partial total this year of $1.8 billion. The recent Go Fest event went down last weekend in Chicago, site of the first Go Fest which is remembered with controversy by the American player base.

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It can be recalled that during the 2017 “Pokémon Go” Fest event, attendees in Chicago were greatly upset at how often the game app crashed despite the number of wireless hotspots put up by Niantic for the event. The organizers failed to account the number of people gathering in one area, their concentration causing strain on the cellular network that remained spotty throughout the day, leading fans to boo Niantic CEO John Hanke when he tried to make a speech at the event. Things got so bad that class suits were filed sometime later. None of that happened in 2018.

And indeed, Niantic took their lessons to heart with the second time around, and this year’s participants at the “Pokémon Go” Fest on July 14 were very well pleased that internet connections were for the most part stable. They had to be to accommodate the 21,000-strong crowd that had gathered for the occasion to catch Pokémon on their phones and tablets. The main draw of course was Niantic’s limited-time online event to catch one of the rarest among Nintendo’s virtual pocket monsters, called Celebi. Aside from that, gamers had fun fiddling with the features present in “Pokémon Go” now that were not there the year before, like trading captured Pokémon.

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Mike Quigley, CMO at Niantic, summed the outcome best: “There’s obviously a lot of learnings from Chicago, and we’ve said publicly that that was a tough day for Niantic, one of the toughest in our history. We learned from that.”

“Pokémon Go” is not just happening in Chicago; player regions around the world will be finding special events on their game experience throughout the summer courtesy of Niantic. An example is Zapdos Day on July 21 where the possibility of catching the Legendary Zapdos goes live across different time zones. The “Pokémon Go” Fest will wind down in Yokosuka, Japan where it will run from August 29 to September 2.

Images courtesy of Pokémon Blog, Dot Esports and YouTube

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