Niantic Is Settling A Pokemon GO Fest Class Action Lawsuit From Attendees For $1.5 Million
It seems like every week we hear of another Fyre Fest-type gathering that turned into a huge financial bust. There were, for instance, the Brooklyn Pizza Festival, and the Giant Cheese Board event in London, and the Great GoogaMooga, also in Brooklyn, which, in my opinion, is the failed fest that started them all. But last summer's "Pokemon GO Fest" — billed as the world's first Real World meetup for "Pokemon GO" enthusiasts — was such a disaster that it sparked a class action lawsuit, and now "Pokemon GO" developer Niantic is settling for $1.5 million. That's a lot of Lucky Eggs. (Bustle has reached out to Niantic for comment, and will update upon response.)
As reported by TechCrunch, Niantic agreed to settle for the hefty amount last week. The settlement intends to reimburse attendees for costs incurred by traveling to the festival, which was held in Chicago's Grant Park in July; so, airfare, car rentals, hotel stays, parking fees, etc. Considering 200,000 people attempted to attend "Pokemon GO Fest," it's not shocking the settlement added up to so much cash. In addition to the settlement money, Niantic already refunded the attendees' ticket costs and provided each with $100 in in-app currency directly after the event, reports TechCrunch.
If that seems like a lot of money for Niantic to pony up for a bungled festival, let's recap what happened to folks who tried to "Pokemon GO" IRL. As Business Insider reported in July, "Pokemon GO Fest" was a "disaster". The festival was intended to be an opportunity for "Pokemon GO" enthusiasts to hunt for virtual Pikachus and Charmanders together — as well as other rare Pokemon they could supposedly only catch within the festival grounds — but the Grant Park premises reportedly suffered a slew of server outages, and you can't play an internet game if the game doesn't work.
The thousands of players, many of whom had traveled pretty far to get to Chicago (Business Insider reported that players came from as far as Australia, Europe, and other far-reaching continents), were understandably outraged, yelling, "Fix the game!" "Fix the game!" and booing Niantic's CEO John Hanke when he got on stage to address the crowd. Though tickets were only $20 (though scalpers were reportedly selling tickets for as much as $400), travel isn't cheap, and disgruntled attendees lost time and money — as one attendee screamed at Hanke, according to Business Insider, "I paid $3,000 for this game!" Attendees were also promised the opportunity to hunt down rare regional Pokemon and to catch a Legendary Pokémon, one created just for the festival, but most people didn't stick around until the end of the festival to get that Legendary little guy, and there was only one rare Pokemon available to be caught.
Verge reporter Megan Farokhmanesh, who also attended the event, shared more than a few harrowing Pokemon-related tales that will help put some of the frustration in context:
Three adult players sat inside the Team Instinct tent. Ranging from ages 38 to 61, the group traveled from Canada to attend the festival. They’ve all been playing since the game’s launch and were eager to get their hands on one of the legendary birds, mythical pokémon in the series. “Zapdos would be cool,” said Vicki Ghabban, as she gestured to the pokémon’s insignia emblazoned on the Team Instinct table. But technical issues were becoming more common, and the odds that they’d catch their pokémon seemed to diminish by the moment.
Nearby, a player yelled “Heracross here!” and a small group of runners quickly gelled into a mob, rolling toward a single goal. There was a rhythm to their movements as they flocked past, backpacks bouncing. But when they reached the spot, they all made the same disappointed frown, as if cued by an invisible maestro. “FIX THE GAME!” “It's gone,” said one woman in disappointment moments later. “We missed it?” asked a guy wistfully. Another shook his head. “Damn, man.”
Sorry, Niantic, but it sounds like attendees earned their payout.