When I walked into Randall’s Island Park for Pokémon Go Fest 2023 this weekend, I was reminded of a quote from the movie Contact. Just like Ellie, played by Jodie Foster in the 1997 sci-fi film, I said to myself, “I had no idea” as I entered this universe where thousands of Pokémon Trainers gathered in New York City.
This event, which took place from August 18th to 20th with morning and afternoon experiences, greatly improved on the shortcomings of previous editions, which collapsed after the pandemic. It began with afternoon activities in the city for those who attended in the morning and vice versa, so that there was no saturation of people at any one time.
It was impressive to see how the players, who paid $30 a day for their ticket, took their experience to the extreme. Some wore outfits related to the universe created by Satoshi Tajiri and Ken Sugimori, while others were curious enough to buy official merchandising to not be out of place.
Another thing that caught our attention were the different habitats throughout the park, which served to differentiate the various Pokémon fauna that could be caught, photographed, lived with, or simply sat and rested. In fact, in some of them you could find botargas of some of the Pokémon to photograph them or take a good selfie.
There were also battlegrounds where you could compete against other trainers and get a special edition pin from the event.
As for free merchandise, we could get Pikachu keychains and caps in the team rooms, as well as augmented reality experiences to share on social media.
One of the most moving things was going through the map where you could put a stamp to indicate where you were coming from, and we realized that during the weekend there wouldn’t be a problem reaching the estimated 75,000 people from different parts of the world that Tiane Bella, the event’s marketing manager, gave us.
While talking to some of the Latino visitors, we asked them what they liked most about this edition of the Pokémon Go Festival, and they said it was the connectivity. When we asked the organizers about this, they confirmed that this was achieved by renting mobile antennas to ensure mobile connectivity. In fact, we were able to confirm this by taking a live feed of the event without any dropouts.
And so, while wearing the official festival T-shirt featuring Mega Rayquaza and eating from the many food trucks at the event, we discovered that the Pokémon Go Fest was more than just a social phenomenon, as we witnessed the magnitude of what this universe represents to most of the participants, and which remains constant 7 years after its launch.
Mega Diancie debuts in Pokémon GO
In addition to the opportunity to catch, trade and battle Pocket Monsters in person, one of the main attractions of this festival was the debut of Mega Diancie, Diancie’s mega evolution. For the time being, only ticketed Trainers could obtain this character’s Mega Diancie at the in-person events in London, Osaka, and New York. Later, this Mega Evolution will be available at the Global Fest this weekend.
Finally, some of the most crowded places were the tents where you could find the most notable trainers of the community and those that gave the opportunity to chat with some of the developers.
Without a doubt, we have to applaud the logistics, the distribution and above all the attitude of the organizers, which was reflected in the photos taken at the end of the event and which we were happy to be a part of.