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Pokemon, No! First Ever Pokemon Go Fest Crashes and Burns

© REUTERS / Kim Kyung-HoonA staff guides performers wearing Pokemon's character Pikachu costumes as they prepare for a parade in Yokohama, Japan
A staff guides performers wearing Pokemon's character Pikachu costumes as they prepare for a parade in Yokohama, Japan - Sputnik International
The first-ever Pokemon Go festival ended with promises of refunds after gamers who paid $20 for the event and gathered at Chicago’s Grant Park found themselves unable to play.

Newser reports that every single cell network inside the park went down within 20 minutes of the festival's start time. By 1:30 p.m., Mike Quigley, chief marketing officer of Pokemon Go developer, Niantic, took to the stage to tell attendees they'd be getting their money back, plus $100 in in-game credits.

"It's a small gesture, but we're sorry," he told the crowd, according to the Chicago Tribune. "We didn't envision the day going this way." It wasn't made clear how the refunds would be issued; Niantic said it would be sending an email later to provide more detail.

Niantic CEO John Hanke tried to address the restless gamer crowd, but was booed. Angry festival goers resorted to chanting "We can't play!" and "Fix the game!" A bottle was thrown at one of the organizers as she addressed the crowd from the stage.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. It's unclear how many tickets for the event were sold, but 15,000 to 20,000 people were expected, according to a permit organizers filed with the city of Chicago. Some had traveled great distances, and, with tickets being resold online for much more than their original $20 cost some had invested a great deal.

But lines wrapped for blocks around the park even before the 10 a.m. start of the event, as people gathered early, eager for a crack at a chance to catch a rare Pokemon monster, one of the event's major selling points. By shortly after noon, some people reported having waited as long as four hours.

"I drove two-and-a-half hours to Seattle and then took a flight straight from there to the airport in Chicago," Rubait Sarker, from Vancouver, British Columbia, told the Chicago Tribune. "This has already been the single greatest gaming experience of my life. There's like 15,000 people in this park… I've never seen this many people playing Pokemon Go in one place before, even at the start of the game."

But for many, it was simply frustration. According to TechCrunch, every cell network collapsed under the surge of network congestion. But to make matters worse, the game itself was having issues. Game Informer's reporter Andrew Reiner said he couldn't keep the app open for more than 15 seconds at a time. Many others reported similar experiences from both inside and outside the park. For those who were able to get online, attempting to capture a monster caused the app to crash error screens to pop up, Kotaku reported.

As one attendee summed it up: "Rain, 6 hour entrance lines, 1 hour exit lines (lol), CEO of Niantic booed off stage, good event guys 

Of course, we all know who's really to blame. 

Pokemon Go has about 65 million monthly active users, according to the game's developer.

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