Pokemon GO decides release Lugia And Articuno
Earlier this morning, it appeared that there was a plan. The plan involved things like catch challenges, reward tiers, a special Legendary Raid at Chicago’s Grant Park followed by a global unlock 24 hours later, and so forth. That plan didn’t work. Pokemon GO Fest, on a practical level, was a spectacular failure: people in the park weren’t able to play the game, throwing a massive wrench into the works for a global event that was meant to serve as a grand celebration of the game’s first year. So, Niantic decide to go ahead and make a new plan. At one point, it seemed they were going to give out Lugia without a raid and release it for battling over the next 48 hours, which seemed lame. That plan seemed to go by the wayside as well. Ditching a carefully choreographed reveal, the developer decided to just go ahead and release two Legendary Birds: Lugia and Articuno, to be specific. And it’s great.
In Chicago, Pokemon GO Fest became something closer to what people had been hoping to get out of the day-long event. Within a moment of Niantic’s announcement, gyms within a two-mile radius lit up with special raids and people one again spilled out of their hotels to go out hunting. I first noticed it once I heard cheering outside my window: the Articuno outside was jamming up traffic on the relatively narrow street, people screaming “Articuno!” when that “gotcha” finally appeared on screen. It was a tough fight, but there were a lot of us.
The same was true for a couple of Lugias inside the park across the street— trainers all hunched around, sitting on the ground, taking out the brand new legendaries as fast as they came up, telling everyone around them to use Pinap berries because of the guaranteed catch. It was what I had imagined with Pokemon GO Fest to begin with, now finally made possible by breaking it out of the confines of Grant Park. In about an hour I had amassed a small non-canonical army of fierce flying Pokemon, buoyed by the suite of bonuses to XP, stardust, buddy catching, candy and everything else Niantic had decided to throw out there.
Sure, the whole thing was fan service. The event itself had turned out to be a complete bust, so the developer decided to just go ahead and throw as much as they could at the Pokemonning populous to make them happy. And guess what? That turned out to work just fine. Pokemon GO can be a stingy, stingy game, and so when the developer decides to turn on the faucet it can be an exciting experience, especially when the streets are flooded with thousands of eager trainers.
It doesn’t seem that the raids achieved that kind of density around the world, but the birds were popping up a day early just the same. No, it wasn’t the plan. But it seems to have produced a sort of giddy excitement.
For a bit, it was like taking a time machine back to last summer, with everyone out in the street, exploring and finding Pokemon. In some ways, that’s why Pokemon GO Fest the actual event was doomed to fail: it tried to rope in an experience that’s meant to live outside. On a practical level, it failed because you just couldn’t cram that many people playing the game in one spot and expect the technical side of things to hold. On a conceptual level, it failed because it just wasn’t what this game is meant to be.
The craziness of the Chicago’s Legendary hour doesn’t really serve to excuse the fact that nothing about Pokemon GO Fest went off as advertized. People still stood out for three hours in the beating sun to gain access to an event that revolved around a broken app. But the mad fun of that moment certainly served to remind everyone here of just what’s special about a game unlike anything else on the market (except Ingress).
I hope these guys can figure out a better event next time. But I also feel fairly confident there will be a next time.