Drama Around Milwaukee's Pokemon GO Ordinance Ends In $US83,000 Settlement 

A lawsuit against Milwaukee County for its ordinance requiring the creators of augmented reality games like Pokemon GO to get permits to operate in its parks will conclude with an $US83,000 ($109,053) settlement against the municipality.

This all started after Pokemon GO players trashed Lake Park last year. In response the county got Niantic to remove PokeStops from it and passed an ordinance requiring augmented reality companies to get permits in order to operate virtually in its parks.

A different augmented reality company working on a poker game, Candy Lab Inc., decided to sue the county over the new rules.

While neighbours not wanting a bunch of enthusiastic but not always contentious mobile gamers causing a mess at their parks is an understandable concern, the way the county went about trying to deal with the issue wasn't very reasonable.

Political pressure to do something about the situation came to a head during a September 2016 public meeting where Pokémon Go players professed their love for the game while other residents proposed increasingly weird ways the county might deal with that fact.

The Milwaukee Record put together an exhaustive rundown of the proceedings at the time including soundbites and transcribed comments. "I ... want you to know ... are you ready for the national headlines about you guys trying to take ... CHILDREN and FAMILIES out of a PARK ... that is FULL OF PEOPLE who are LOVING THIS GAME," one sobbing boy apparently said at the time.

The ordinance that got passed included, among other things, a requirement that companies operating games in the designated areas get "certificates of insurance" in the amount of $US1,000,000 ($1,313,888) for any potential damages that might result. Even the judge overseeing the lawsuit was perplexed by the language in the ordinance.

US District Judge J.P. Stadtmueller issued a preliminary injunction against the county in July remarking on the "strangeness and lack of sophistication" of the new rules. Candy Labs argued that the permit requirement was ultimately an infringement on first amendment rights and the Federal Court agreed.

At the time, Milwaukee County Supervisor Sheldon Wasserman said she was looking forward to a trial date for the "groundbreaking case." It appears there won't ever be one, however.

The AP reported late this week that the county's representation and Candy Labs' had come to an agreement which would make the injunction against the ordinance permanent and also require the municipality to pay the video game company's legal fees.

Fortunately for residents, the money to pay the $US83,000 owed will come from its insurance rather than directly from taxpayer's wallets.

Though the county unanimously supported the settlement, it's still looking at new ways of dealing with the original issue. "It is essential that profit-making businesses cannot simply hijack our parks," said County Attorney Margaret Daun on Thursday according to the AP's report.

And while the US Federal Judge in the case argued that companies like Niantic weren't holding scheduled events like the ones local governments usually have a permitting process for, it's clear that large groups of people congregating together in specific areas is a feature of games like Pokémon Go, not a bug.


Comments

    Wow this just tumbled across virgin soil like a ragdoll for a good distance.

    The irony now is the game would actually need to host a legitimate event with permits to attract those kinds of high numbers outside of that initial bull rush.
    We all knew a mobile Pokemon game would be big, but I don't think anybody predicted how big or that it would impact quite the way it did, so many flash points that were only visible in hindsight.

    Going to be interesting going forward, raised some interesting questions.
    Im not even sure it can replicated this generation.
    (Though I bet it will still be Pokemon when it does happen again, or some kind of hard light augmented reality Minecraft)

      I'd fear for ppl suffering social anxiety & having their homes marked as a gym or "poke stop", Constantly having ppl outside plus potentially damaging your property &/Or leaving their trash behind would be a horrible situation. Thankfully i had no pokemon go players outside my home.

        You can't have your home marked as a gym or pokestop, ingress portals are not allowed on private residential property. The community is fairly hard on about this rule.

        My mother lived in front of a park with historic landmarks that stretched her entire street.
        When I first visited after the game came out I was happy to find a great number of Pokestops peppered along the park and a bloody gym opposite her house.

        I found her standing at balcony, this is what she said:
        "Somethings going on out there, all day every day, cars pull up the end of the street, and slowly drive down, stopping at the same places...and there's always three to four cars parked right across the road, or people running back and forward with their phones, what the fuck is going on?!"
        I remember laughing and showing her the game, she wasn't angry but the sudden influx of people and the change to the public dynamic still threw her a little.
        She was less concerned once she understood why and people weren't being messy thankfully.
        (We must've had crazy Ingress players because my whole area is absolute covered in Pokestops and gyms, eliminating single draw spots)

          That sounds like a nightmare to me lol, We used to live near a beach & had ppl always parked at the front of our house, I thought that was bad.

      Well the expected user count was 50 times their highest expectations. No wonder they had scaling issues in the first few weeks. I had a lot of fun with the game for about 9 months, but didn't stick with it long term like Ingress.

        NO.

        They had no expectations, no research and no idea what they were doing. There head of marketing was estatic 1000 people turned up to an event to play Ingress in Sydney... 4 days later they released PGo early while he was flying back from that event, without telling him.

          NO to which statement?

          Here is proof.
          https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/30/pokemon-go-traffic-google

          Or to me playing it? Are you a stalker?

          They did not need to market it. It was lightning in a bottle already.

            No to the 50 times expected users... they had no projections or forecasts. They closed the invite only beta and opened it to Australia/NZ. Australia was a test that went off like lightning.

            They did the Google thing of opening their product to everyone in Beta... with beta infrastructure and no real plans in place for its success. Their 50 times new users was on their limited closed beta capacity which was mostly former ingress playersin the thousands. (Who were shocked about its soft release)

            Part of marketing is research knowing your target audience... it was the most anticipated mobile game just on trailer views and blog posts alone, yet they were woefully underprepared is proof they didnt understand what they had.

            It didnt need marketing, but they did need the research and public relations in place but didnt. Also merchandising etc they had a hit, released it too early and failed to capitilise on it. Despite its success it was a failure internally.

              Wall of text doesn't win against statements of proof, sorry.

              I'm also sure it was a failure internally, only making close to a billion dollars.

              Did you get screwed over with shards or something?

      we all know Pokemon Go would be bigummm.... Niantic had no idea. No market research but pkenty experience with Ingress property and public problems to see the potential scale.

      The thing is Harry Potter Go is coming and if Niaintic doesnt do their market research or due diligence proper this time... they will be in for a lot more trouble

      The arguement was the council rule did more damage to the game company unfairly than any potential damage to the council... well sincecthen there was that research on the property and vehicle damage caused during Pokemon Gos peak.

    My comment stands....in full.

    There were far too many variables to possibly cover and as I said, many weren't even visible until afterward.
    Experience in Ingress amounted to nothing in the long run, the difference between the two was apples and oranges.

    Niantic did know they had a hit, they knew they had something special, but they never prepared for a phenomenon.
    I even guessed it might attract audiences outside the key demographics, ones who didn't have much experience or knowledge of Pokemon, but I would never have guessed that the craze itself would attract any and all demographics, through proximity no less.
    No amount of market research was going to predict something that had never happened before.

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