I spent two days in Chicago with thousands of Pokemon Go fans and had a blast - here's what it was like at this year's Pokemon Go Fest
- Last week, Niantic held the annual Pokémon Go Fest, a four-day event in Chicago where Pokémon Trainers gathered to catch trade, and battle Pokémon.
- Niantic says that there were tens of thousands of players in attendance, speaking to the continuing popularity of Pokémon Go.
- I went for the first two days of Go Fest, and had a total blast. Here's what it was like.
- Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.
Do people still play Pokémon Go? It's been 3 years since the AR mobile game was first released, and based on the crowds in Chicago last week (not the mention the recent $4 billion valuation of the company who makes the game) the answer is a resounding "yes."
Niantic, the game's developer, kicked off its third annual Pokémon Go Fest in Grant Park in Chicago from June 13-16; a sold-out festival that brought Pokémon Trainers from all over the world to the Windy City to trade, battle, and of course, catch rare Pokémon exclusive to the event. Niantic tells Business Insider that tens of thousands of players showed up across the four days.Unlike previous years (which I also attended) tickets to the 2019 Go Fest were sold within the app, and in order to purchase them you had to also win a lottery drawing. To accommodate more people, the festival was four days long this year, up from two.
Another new twist: Attendees were assigned a date, time, and place to show up. You could come to the park before or after your assigned slot, but all the activities that make the event special only showed up in the Pokémon Go app during the allotted timeframe.
I was there on the Thursday and Friday of the event, but my app didn't activate until the second day - before that, all I could do was look around and take photos.
While there were a few network hiccups, and a temporary evacuation on Saturday due to a thunderstorm threat, the rest of the event seemed to go off without a hitch. That's a good thing, considering that the first Pokémon Go fest in 2017 was a notorious fiasco.
I was one of the lucky few to check it out this year, and I had a total blast. Here's what it was like inside during my visit, on the first two days of the event: