Disgruntled attendees of Niantic’s Pokemon Go Fest in Chicago last week have taken legal action against the developer. Chicago’s Zimmerman Law Offices announced yesterday that attendees had filed a class action lawsuit against Niantic.
Zimmerman explained that the suit was filed because many of the event’s attendees “were not able to obtain the special Pokemon and other rewards that were advertised as being available only to those people who attended the fest.” Lead plaintiff Jonathan Norton came to the July 22 Chicago event from California, but the lawsuit is seeking monetary damages to recover the travel expenses of attendees who came from around the globe.
As Zimmerman explained, Niantic promoted the event by telling Pokemon Go fans they’d have the chance to play the game live with thousands of other players in a singular location. Many special prizes, events, rewards and legendary Pokemon exclusive to the Fest were promised to be available. For many, though, it didn’t quite work out that way.
The event was plagued by internet connection problems that prevented many attendees from playing the game at all. Niantic CEO John Hanke would later apologize and state that “Technical issues with our game software caused client crashes and interfered with gameplay for some users.” Hanke blamed the bad experience on “software and network problems” despite what he claimed were Niantic’s best attempts to provide an environment with a stable connection for attendees.
“Fest-goers were unable to complete timed in-game challenges to collect special rewards or collect previously unavailable or rare Pokemon,” Attorney Tom Zimmerman said. “Had my client known that he would spend the majority of the event waiting in lines and unable to play the Pokemon Go game, he would have stayed in California instead of paying money to fly to Chicago to attend the fest.”
Niantic offered ticket refunds and $100 in USD worth of in-game PokeCoins to those affected, but the class action lawsuit is focused on recouping travel expenses as well.
“We’re not seeking any relief with respect to the failure to get legendary Pokemon, because Niantic is offering that,” Zimmerman told Polygon. “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.”
Niantic responded that it would not comment on the suit while it remains an open case.