John Hanke, the boss of developer Niantic, is as passionate as ever about getting players outside. And his strategy is working, as seen in the success of this year’s Pokémon Go Fest in Chicago
Going to the gym meant something quite different in Chicago’s Lincoln Park one weekend in July. The Pokémon Go Fest, returning to the city after a disastrous event in 2017 that ended with developer Niantic refunding tickets, handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of in-game currency and settling a $1.5m (£1.18m) lawsuit, once again packed the US city with virtual collectible creatures and real Pokémon trainers. The 20,000 players who took part were on a five-stage quest to catch a mythical Pokémon, Celebi, and the soggy 30C weather didn’t put them off.
Yes, people are still playing Pokémon Go. The mobile gaming phenomenon has quietly reached its highest player figures since it launched in 2016. In a moral panic not dissimilar to the one currently surrounding Fortnite, the summer of that year saw Pokémon Go blamed for car crashes, trespassing incidents and even death. Two years on, though, the headlines have faded into memory and the augmented-reality monster-catching game has peacefully built a thriving community of passionate Pokémon trainers.