Pokémon GO Fest drew quite a crowd last weekend, but it’s turned out to be a serious problem for the game’s company.
Polygon reports that Niantic Labs has been hit by a class action lawsuit from twenty to thirty attendees over the handling of the event, alleging that the company didn’t fulfill promises made about the nature of the event.
According to lawyer Thomas Zimmerman, who filed the suit, he was contacted by a man from California named Jonathan Norton who traveled to Chicago to attend the event. Zimmerman added that Norton “paid to fly out for the festival and had to wait for several hours in line, just like most everybody else in order to get in,” only to find out that the game wasn’t working. Zimmerman says that the software and network issues combined to make it impossible for Norton and others go get the legendary Pokemon during the event.
Niantic offered full refunds on Tuesday for attendees’ tickets on Saturday and gave all visitors $100 of in-game credit as well as the legendary Pokemon. But Zimmerman sayd that those who traveled far to attend the festival paid much more than the compensatory amount.
“We’re not seeking any relief with respect to the failure to get legendary Pokémon, because Niantic is offering that,” he told the site. “But Niantic is not offering to refund people’s travel expenses for coming to Chicago. Most of the people came from out of state, many people from other countries — I talked to someone who flew in from Japan.”
He added, “The issue is, what was promised, what was the incentive that people relied on and the representations that people relied on to buy a ticket and make travel plans and fly to Chicago to participate in this festival? Would they have done that had they known that that was not going to be lived up to and they weren’t going to get the experience that was represented?”
Niantic extended the amount of time and locations that rare Pokemon could be caught in Chicago for the weekend as well; a spokesperson for the company said, “Niantic does not comment on pending legal matters.”
An estimated 20,000 people showed up for Pokemon GO Fest, which took place in Grant Park in the city. When asked what went wrong at the event, Niantic Chief Marketing Officer Mike Quigley said, “We don’t know right now.”