Game development company Niantic promised its player base an elevated gaming experience during its Pokémon Go Fest 2022 this past weekend. New Pokémon, cosmetic items and battle opportunities awaited players in the Pokémon Go app, but many fans were disappointed as the event unfolded. Glitches on the game’s map, underwhelming new content and a scarcity of rare Pokémon made for a very unhappy player base, leaving many to wonder how Niantic will respond to these concerns in upcoming summer events.
For context, the Go Fest has been one of the game’s best performing events for the past two years. Pokémon Go Fest 2021 was a huge success, seeing players join from across the globe to catch, battle and trade with fellow trainers, according to a report from the Pokémon Go team.
Go Fest 2021 involved innovative new mechanics, new “legendary” Pokémon added to the game and, most importantly, hours upon hours logged from the community. Niantic saw great financial success, earning over $21 million in revenue from the two-day event alone, Eurogamer reported at the time.
Pokémon Go Fest 2022’s data has yet to be released, but the player base’s reception suggests this year’s event was significantly less successful.
One of the biggest selling points for Go Fest is the abundance of “shiny” Pokémon — a variant of the adorable creatures that is difficult to obtain. Many players took to social media over the weekend to report on the lack of shiny Pokémon appearing from June 4-5, despite official announcements and established game mechanics suggesting otherwise before the event had begun.
“Pokemon Go Fest 2022. 5 (incenses). 500+ pokeballs spent, twice as much shiny checked & 10+ raids… 1 and only Shiny… Am I the only one?” a Pokémon GO player asked on Reddit.
In addition, the cost of virtual tickets was raised to $15 — triple the price from the year prior. This coincides with Niantic reaching $6 billion in revenue, resulting in fans debating the necessity of the price spike.
What no one anticipated was a glitch that would interrupt and sabotage gameplay. Caused by using an item meant to lure Pokémon in-game, any of the catchable creatures that appeared on players’ screens disappeared after interacting with them. This made one of the largest aspects of the game — catching and collecting Pokémon — impossible.
The only official response from Niantic about the glitch has come from its support account on Twitter the same day: “Trainers, a visual bug is causing Pokémon attracted to Incense and Lures to appear after they have already fled from the Map. We are working on resolving this issue, thanks for your patience. #PokemonGO”
This glitch lasted for both days of the event and resulted in a mass amount of players to request refunds for their GO Fest event tickets, Dextero reported.
Although problems like the glitch were unexpected, many players seem unsurprised by the decrease in quality for this year’s GO Fest. Upon announcement of Pokémon GO Fest 2022, many players had already decided to boycott the event.
This response was due to Niantic’s decisions about game mechanics that were heavily influenced by player location and social distancing regulations during 2020-21. Players in less-populated areas were given fewer opportunities to participate in “raids,” one of the primary battling and catching mechanics since the game’s initial launch, and were encouraged to travel to unsafe, crowded areas to continue gameplay as a result.
As of 2022, roughly 80 million players catch, battle and train together each month, according to one gaming site. Compare this to the 232 million players in the first month of the game’s release, and the significant drop in user activity is undeniable.
With Pokémon GO Fest 2022 leaving players with an unsavory taste in their mouths, the question going forward is not what Niantic has in store for players this summer, but how many will end up participating.