Pokémon Go’s first real-world event has been a disaster, and everyone is getting refunds

Magikarp hat
Someone made this Magikarp hat for Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago. Alex Heath / Business Insider

CHICAGO — “Fix the game!” “Fix the game!”

Boos and jeers erupted from thousands of Pokémon Go players in Chicago’s Grant Park on Saturday after the game stopped working for many who had paid and travelled far to be there.

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 continued for hours, all roughly 20,000 attendees will be given full refunds for their $US25 tickets and $US100 worth of in-game coins, which can be used to purchase special items.

A Niantic spokesperson told Business Insider that the game studio was working with carriers like AT&T and Verizon to direct more antennas to the park. Not all players have been affected by the outage.

At roughly 11 a.m. local time, Niantic CEO John Hanke addressed players from a stage in the park. He was loudly booed by the crowd while he welcomed everyone to the event.

“I paid $US3,000 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 $US1 billion in revenue.

Tickets to Chicago’s Pokémon Go Fest event sold out in under 10 minutes for roughly $US25 each, and many tickets were later resold online for hundreds of dollars. Hanke said that players from Australia, Europe, and other continents had travelled 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 that attendees would have the chance to catch the first ultra-powerful, so-called Legendary Pokémon at the end of the event.