Server outages and bugs plagued Niantic’s Pokémon Go at the height of its popularity last summer, and a similar situation occurred early into the game’s first-ever, all-day ticketed event.
Because of the server outages, which began early in the day and were never completed fixed, all roughly 20,000 attendees were given full refunds for their $20 tickets and $100 worth of in-game coins, which can be used to purchase special items.
A Niantic spokesperson told Business Insider during the event that the game studio was working with carriers like AT&T and Verizon to direct more coverage to the park. Not all players were affected by the outage and some carriers, such as T-Mobile, worked better with the game throughout the day.
At roughly 11 a.m. local time and the height of the server outage, Niantic CEO John Hanke addressed players from a stage in the park. He was loudly booed and heckled the moment he stepped on stage.
“I paid $3,000 for this game!” one person in the crowd loudly shouted at Hanke. Pokémon Go offers in-app purchases and is estimated to be the fastest mobile game to reach $1 billion in revenue.
Roughly 20,000 people paid to go to Pokémon Go's first-ever event in Chicago. Alex Heath / Business Insider
Tickets to Chicago’s Pokémon Go Fest event sold out in under 10 minutes for $20 each, and many tickets were later resold online for hundreds of dollars. Hanke said that players from Australia, Europe, and other continents had traveled to Chicago for the event.
Besides the ability to catch rare Pokémon that are typically only available in certain parts of the world, Niantic promised attendees that they would have the chance to catch the first ultra-powerful, so-called Legendary Pokémon at the end of the event.
In reality, there was only one regional Pokémon to be found in the hit augmented reality game, Heracross. At the end of the day, Niantic told attendees that they would all be automatically awarded one Legendary Pokémon named Lugia. Most ticket holders left the park before the event was scheduled to end at 7 p.m.