This Might Be The Fyre Festival Of Pokémon Fan Conventions

This Might Be The Fyre Festival Of Pokémon Fan Conventions

Pokémon has a rich history and spans across several mediums like video games, trading cards, merchandise, and more. So it would, in theory, be a perfect fit for fan conventions. The Pokémon Company hosts plenty of its own events like Go Fest for Pokémon Go fans and its World Championship tournaments for competitive players, but fans who live in places that don’t often get those official events are out of luck—unless they put on their own events.

This is what happened with Pokéverse, a fan-run convention in the Philippines meant to bring Pokémon fans together (while bearing a strikingly similar tagline to another event called Pokécon run by the Pokemon Philippines community) which on paper, seems like an exciting event. It promised big guests, activities, and “officially licensed” merchandise (though not specifically from The Pokémon Company). While some attendees have expressed satisfaction with the event on its official social media accounts, others have complained about poor organization, communication, and feeling underwhelmed by the event. Is it as bad as the Wonka Experience that went viral in February or the legendary Dashcon? That’s in the eye of the beholder. But it did sound like a rough time for several people who attended.

Pokéverse took place from May 31 to June 2 at the SM Megamall, Megatrade Hall in Mandaluyong. Its big draw was that Veronica Taylor, the actor who played Pokémon anime protagonist Ash Ketchum for the first eight seasons, and James Paige, the vocalist for the first season’s English theme song, would be at the show for panels and meet and greets. However, when attendees arrived, they discovered multiple inconsistencies between the promotional material and the actual event. Attendees described the event as “barren” with large areas of the convention space dedicated to one of the event’s sponsors, Frigga, a Zodiac-themed charm company (another major sponsor was the NFT company Kaloscope). Inflatable activities such as a basketball arcade game and others were set up but had no Pokémon branding.

Attendees reported multiple instances of poor communication and management from the event. Areas were poorly labeled, Pokémon-themed events turned out to be ads for unrelated services, and artists looking to take part in the artist alley dealt with inconsistent communication, high prices for participation, and were ultimately given table space smaller than what was initially promised. Other activities and attractions were reportedly unorganized or didn’t start on time.

Prior to the event, Pokéverse was under fire for its high ticket prices, with weekend passes ranging from roughly the equivalent of $US43 USD to $US255 USD. These costs were explained as “essential” to cover “venue rental, international headliner fees, flights, hotels, transport, setup, and logistics.” Notably, Taylor said she wasn’t compensated for her appearance.

One specific part of the show that has garnered severe backlash on social media was that several children were brought to the event as part of the Make-a-Wish Foundation. The non-profit works with terminally ill children to grant “wishes” such as meeting a celebrity or going to Disney World. Pokéverse partnered with Make-a-Wish for the event and brought several children to the show. While the kids were masked, bringing children who are likely immunocompromised to a convention was met with backlash.

Pokémon fan and artist BintuRita posted a viral thread on X (formerly Twitter) about her experience at the event, which recounted most of the incidents laid out on her Facebook artist page. Those posts are some of the most comprehensive information about the event we have thus far. A specific issue she cited was that the event organizers filmed people in the designated rest area for social media. Pokéverse’s official account responded to the criticisms saying that, as this was the first iteration of the Pokéverse event, it agreed any future shows would need to be improved. However, they have not removed the videos from the rest area as requested and instead took down videos of contest winners performing the Pokémon theme song.

“Hi BintuRita we apologise for the oversight we are investigating the matters with the production the team.

The organisers have been very busy with post production but have said will reach out to you personally to make sure your concerns are addressed.

It’s our first event with very little time to prepare but we do agree that better that a lot of things need to be improved for another season but we appreciate your participation and will continue take your feedback to do better next time.

Please DM us privately as we did have your prize bags available on the day and was suppose to be given to you after the performance and we will have it delivered to you this week.

We have taken down the PokéSinger video as well for the time being to investigate further.

But we really appreciate you for being part of the event and we hope to excite better for another one.”

We’ve reached out to Pokéverse for a comment on the situation and will update this story if we hear back.

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