Pokemon Go Fest 2018: State of the Game


There are certain games that come and go in an instant. To many, it seemed that Pokémon Go was one of these games. The millions of downloads upon its release seemed promising, but months later it seemed most “casuals” had already uninstalled the game. I’m here to tell you that Pokémon Go is thriving just as much as about any game you’ve played this week.

Among the things making Pokémon Go so loved by players are the global events and almost weekly (insert Pokémon name here) days that spawn a certain Pokémon in greater numbers and increase the chances of getting a shiny version of said Pokémon. It being the summer means one thing and one thing only: Pokémon Go Fest 2018 has come.

Before beginning the discussion about Pokémon Go Fest 2018 we should start with a quick recap of last year’s event. Pokémon Go Fest 2017 was a disaster, to say the least. A combination of the overcrowded lines to get in (3 hour wait), game servers crashing, and cell phone service providers failing to keep their service stable all contributed to the biggest fail the game has seen. People flew from all around the world to attend the event and almost everyone was let down.

Now that the catastrophic summary of last year’s event is out of the way, I want to start by saying Pokémon Go Fest 2018 was better in every single way. No lines, no crashes, and full service on my cell phone. This year’s event was everything last year wishes it was, aside from the weather being exactly the same (rainy and humid).

Pokémon Go Fest 2018 was held at beautiful Lincoln Park in Chicago on both July 14th and 15th. That’s right, a two day event in which Pokémon trainers could only participate in one day meant less of a crowd, which led to a better user experience. There were no fences anywhere which allowed trainers to enter the park at any time and from any location. The 1.8 mile long walk from the North end to the South end became very painful as I made the walk almost 7 times.

The tasks given and the different terrains along the walk were all interesting, but one thing I noticed is that the event was stripped of one core component that keeps people playing the game: Raids. Raids were nowhere to be found in Lincoln Park. I’m not 100% sure as to why they were excluded, but if I had to guess I’d say they were one reason the game kept crashing at the previous event. Allowing hundreds, if not thousands, of people to join in on the same raid could cause major problems within the game.

In terms of cell service, I had almost full bars the entire time. I spoke with one woman who worked for Sprint at the event who pointed out to me that all major cell service providers had miniature cell towers at various light poles rigged with generators throughout the park. After last year’s event, you better believe they were prepared.

After an extremely successful Pokémon Go Fest 2018 it is safe to say the game is stronger than ever. With special raid events, global challenges, and boosted shiny days Niantic knows exactly what they are doing and is clearly listening to fan feedback. After giving all Pokémon trainers at last year’s event $100 worth in-game currency because of how terrible the event went, Niantic more than made up for Pokémon Go Fest 2017 with Pokémon Go Fest 2018 and it makes me very excited for the future of Pokémon Go.