Just because you’ve successfully created and organized one of the biggest and most popular “augmented reality” games doesn’t exactly mean you’re well-equipped to organize a massive, real-world event. Niantic Labs learned that the hard way last year when it scheduled what should have been a great real-world Pokemon GO gathering. It not only turned into a disaster but, with the agreed settlement, has also turned into a huge financial loss for the now independent game developers.
It’s almost like the ironic but strangely common phenomenon of having terrible Wi-Fi at tech events. Unfortunately for Niantic, that was just one of the problems they quickly ran into even before the Chicago event could start. Long story short, it was a disaster that easily eclipsed the disastrous first launch of the game. Given how so many players had to fly in, book hotels, and more just to attend the canceled event, it was no surprise Niantic got sued.
To its credit, Niantic did refund tickets and offered in-game currency amounting to $100, but that just wasn’t enough. That barely covered the expenses many incurred just to get and stay there. You will also probably hear terms like “extreme emotional distress” thrown in as well.
According to TechCrunch’s sources, Niantic Labs decided to settle rather than let the case drag on, which would reach its first year in three months. The settlement amounts to $1,575,000 to reimburse attendees’ expenses and pay for lawyer fees. The unclaimed amount will be donated to charity and won’t go back to Niantic.
The settlement and claims website isn’t scheduled to go up until May 25, though. And there will be some limits and checks in place to make sure that no one will game the system to get more money than they’re entitled to.