Last year’s Pokémon Go Fest events attracted around 300,000 ticket holders to the parks and city plazas of Chicago, Dortmund and Yokohama. This year? Well, 2020 is a little different.
As every game developer deals with the added challenges of 2020, it feels like Pokémon Go maker Niantic is having to adapt more than most. The start of the year saw a swathe of live events – including the UK’s first Safari Zone in Liverpool – postponed. Then Niantic was forced to make sweeping changes to Pokémon Go itself, necessitated by what felt like a unique and sustained existential threat to the kind of social, outdoors gameplay Niantic was founded to promote.
But Niantic adapted, added new features, changed others. And as world headlines moved from reporting on 2020’s pandemic to the wave of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Niantic stepped up to provide what many praised as the best response anywhere in the games industry: a slew of internal promises and an eye-opening minimum pledge of $5m from this year’s Go Fest 2020 ticket sales.