Niantic’s Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago Doles Out Refunds after Disastrous Performance

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Thousands of irate Pokemon Go fanatics were left empty-handed after hours of waiting to join an event hosted by the mobile sensation’s developer in Chicago on Saturday.

Pokemon Go developer Niantic will be doling out $100 refunds to the nearly 20,000 attendees of Chicago’s official “Pokemon Go Fest,” after the game buckled beneath the weight of the crowd assembled, and its own technical shortcomings.

Attempting to actually catch any of the event-spawned rare Pokemon was nearly impossible, thanks to a client rife with error messages and repeated disconnection. It wasn’t just the game that didn’t work — the cell networks themselves couldn’t seem to handle the strain. On the scene, TechCrunch’s Greg Kumparak said that he was “used to getting around network congestion and finding some semblance of signal. There was nothing.”

Some players traveled long distances to obtain the rarest geographically-specific pocket monsters, and were left wanting. And while Niantic is planning to offer refunds — whether for all attendees, or by request remains unclear — it won’t do much to help those for whom the outrageous $100 entry fee was the least investment. Niantic will address the problems via e-mail.

When Niantic CEO John Hanke took center stage, he was greeted by chants of “FIX YOUR GAME” and “WE CAN’T PLAY.” Attendees pressed forward to vent their frustration on the executive, but no sum of decibels seems to have alleviated the problem.

This story will continue to develop, as Niantic struggles to address the issues during a live event that is presumed to continue regardless of service, access, or the playability of the actual game.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.

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