Update 2: Niantic has increased the range of Pokémon Go Fest to a two-mile radius around the festival grounds. Players are now able to connect to the game to catch Unown, and collect rare eggs from Pokéstops. Rather than having people come together to celebrate the game, the messaging is now to disperse. Players who registered their accounts for Pokémon Go Fest (which requires a code) now have until Monday to reap the fruits from the event.
Update: Players have begun expressing their frustration with the game at the fest itself, as you can see below. Niantic’s John Hanke took to the stage to boos as he greeted players and outlined the day’s activities, as the game is still suffering major issues.
Original Story: Pokémon Go Fest kicked off at 10 a.m. CT in Chicago’s Grant Park. An estimated 20,000 Pokémon Go players are expected for a day of festivities, egg hatching, and the chance of unearthing the game’s first Legendary Pokémon. The Fest is running into one huge problem at the moment, and it isn’t the good chance of rain. Pokémon Go is currently unplayable for most players.
I arrived at Grant Park at 9 a.m., and was able to spin just one Pokéstop. I talked to dozens of people either playing Pokémon Go, or attempting to, and they are all having issues. Grant Park’s numerous Pokéstops are lit up like Christmas Trees, and Unown is spawning, but few people can catch anything before the app crashes. I haven’t been able to keep it open for more than 15 seconds at a time, and other players (including my wife) are running into the exact same issue. AT&T users are apparently faring the worst, while Sprint has the best performance, which is still hardly playable. I even logged onto the press wi-fi at the event, and the app won’t launch. It’s getting crushed by players.
Perhaps Niantic is tinkering with the app in the area, leading to performance issues, but even the additional cell coverage from providers isn’t enough for the influx of players. Let’s hope Niantic gets their Psyducks in a row quickly, or this could get ugly. The fate of a Legendary Pokémon is at stake, after all.