App developer Niantic has settled a lawsuit over a botched Pokemon GO festival in Chicago's Grant Park in July 2017 for nearly $US1.6 million ($2 million), TechCrunch reported over the weekend.
A Pokemon festival in Japan in 2016. Photo: AP
Some among the estimated 20,000 festival-goers got very disappointed when the heavily-promoted event was rife with internet connectivity problems and in-game crashes, with one who travelled all the way from California filing a class action lawsuit against Niantic over the $US25 ($33) ticket fees and incidental expenses such as mileage and hotels. (Some ticket scalpers reportedly charged up to $US400 [$521] on eBay after legitimate slots reportedly sold out in minutes, according to the Chicago Tribune.) Now, TechCrunch reports, Niantic has agreed to pay out $US1,575,000 ($2,052,168) to help cover incurred costs for attendees - that's after previously offering refunds for all tickets, giving players $US100 ($130) in in-game currency, and giving them all some legendary Pokemon.
Per TechCrunch, a class action website will be posted in the coming months for attendees to register for their slice of the pie, but it will have at least some safeguards to prevent those scalpers or other randoms from claiming rewards:
According to documents filed in a Chicago court, an official website for the settlement should be up by May 25th, 2018, with an email sent to let attendees know. The documents also note a few potential catches: those claiming part of the settlement will need to have checked in to GO Fest through the game (presumably to prevent those who sold their tickets for a markup from getting more money out of it), and anyone claiming more than $107 [$AU139] in expenses will need to have receipts.
Presumably anyone who paid for those $500 tickets on eBay is out of luck, especially given that unregistered ticket scalping is usually illegal in Illinois anyhow. (Hey, you live by the scalp, you die by the scalp.)
TechCrunch also reported that any remaining proceeds would be donated to the Illinois Bar Foundation and Chicago Run, a non-profit promoting youth running programs, and will not be pocketed by Niantic. It may sound like a huge chunk of change, but as USA Today reported at the time of the sold-out event, Apptopia estimated Pokemon GO had already generated a staggering $US1.2 billion ($1.6 billion) in revenue - a figure that had climbed to at least $US1.8 billion ($2.4 billion) by the end of 2017 and has in all certainty kept climbing since.