Pokémon Go fiasco costs festival organisers $1.575 million

June 2018

Live events sector


The disastrous Fyre Festival, organised by entrepreneur Billy MacFarland, is one example of what happens when technology innovators believe the myth that it’s easy to organise a successful music festival. It’s not. The festival, held in April 2017, experienced a number of serious management, administration and organisational issues and was cancelled after guests had begun to arrive in the Bahamas – most of who had paid thousands of dollars to receive ‘VIP’ treatment. The festival was heavily promoted in the social media as ‘the cultural experience of the decade’ touting luxury villas and gourmet food, but instead, was a total failure.


MacFarland, who founded the online ad platform Spling, along with Magnises, which aimed to create an exclusive “black card” with social perks such as club membership, and Fyre Media with Ja Rule, is now facing various civil lawsuits and was arrested on charges of fraud and subsequently The 26-year-old business owner pleaded guilty to wire fraud charges in a Manhattan federal court in a deal with prosecutors that suggested he serve between eight and 10 years in prison. McFarland also admitted to lying to investors and falsifying documents in a bid to raise funds for the lavish event. He will be sentenced in June.


Now Pokémon Go developer Niantic has reportedly settled a class-action lawsuit filed by disgruntled attendees of last year’s troubled Pokémon Go Fest at a cost of more than US$1.5 million. Lawyer Thomas Zimmerman, representing lead plaintiff Jonathan Norton and a group of other festival attendees. The action against Niantic was for damages to cover travel expenses, after technical problems caused by overloaded mobile networks left many festivalgoers unable to play the hit game once there

Niantic refunded the cost of tickets ($20) and granted attendees’ $100 worth of in-game credit, no reimbursement was provided for travel costs to Chicago’s Grant Park. Many of the 20,000 people who attended had travelled large distances – some from outside the US. According to TechCrunch, the class-action judgment was settled with the defendant agreeing to pay out a total of $1.575m to cover travel expenses.

Any leftover money will be donated to charitable organisations Illinois Bar Foundation and Chicago Run.






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