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Pokémon enlists Katy Perry for 25th anniversary

Pokémon, one of the most popular children’s entertainment franchises in the world, will celebrate its 25th anniversary with the help of Universal Music Group (UMG) artists including Katy Perry.

The franchise, which initially launched in Japan as Pocket Monsters before heading to North America and rebranding, produces video games and animation but is best known for its trading card game.

The classic game, in which players adopt the role of a Pokémon trainer and use those Pokémon to fight their opponents, has sold over 30 billion cards in 13 different languages and, in 2017, accounted for 82% of the trading card market in Europe.

“Expect new songs from a wide range of musicians, featuring rising artists and award-winning superstars like Katy Perry”

The company – founded by Nintendo, Game Freak, and Creatures – will mark a quarter-century with a ‘global music celebration’ dubbed P25 Music, which will feature new songs from ‘rising artists and award-winning superstars’.

“Of course, every party needs a great playlist, and to that end, we’re teaming up with UMG and some of the biggest names in music to create a global music celebration dubbed P25 Music,” reads a statement from Pokémon. “Expect new songs from a wide range of musicians, featuring rising artists and award-winning superstars like pop icon Katy Perry. More details, including additional performer surprises, will be announced throughout the year.”

“Pokémon has been a constant in my life from playing the original video games on my Game Boy, to trading Pokémon TCG cards at lunch, to the adventures of catching Pokémon on the street with Pokémon GO. I’ve even visited the Pokémon Café in Japan while on tour!” says Perry.

Perry’s collaboration with the franchise comes nearly a decade after her iconic appearance in The Sims 3, for which she recorded a garbled version of her hit ‘Last Friday Night’ in Simlish – a fictional language used by The Sims.

 


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Niantic agrees $1.5m+ Pokémon Go Fest settlement

Pokémon Go developer Niantic has reported settled the class-action lawsuit filed by disgruntled attendees of last year’s troubled Pokémon Go Fest for more than US$1.5 million.

Lawyer Thomas Zimmerman, representing lead plaintiff Jonathan Norton and a group of other festival attendees, sued Niantic last July for monetary damages to cover their travel expenses, after technical problems caused by overloaded mobile networks left many festivalgoers unable to play the hit game.

While Niantic refunded the cost of tickets ($20) and granted attendees’ $100 worth of in-game credit, no reimbursement was provided for travel costs to Chicago’s Grant Park. Many of the 20,000 people who attended had travelled large distances – some from outside the US.

According to TechCrunch, the class-action judgment (on 30 March) sees Niantic agree to pay out a total of $1.575m to cover travel expenses.

Any leftover money will be donated to charitable organisations Illinois Bar Foundation and Chicago Run, with no money reverting back to the company.

 


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Pokémon Go developer hit with suit over “flop” fest

Niantic, the developer of popular mobile game Pokémon Go, has been slapped with a class-action lawsuit after its inaugural Pokémon Go Fest was beset by technical problems that left many attendees unable to play the game.

The one-day festival, which took place last Saturday in Chicago’s Grant Park (known as the venue for Lollapalooza), was organised by Niantic as fan gathering to celebrate the first anniversary of Pokémon Go’s launch, and drew sponsorship from telcos Spring and Boost Mobile.

Tickets were priced at US$20 (although, predictably, many were being sold for much more on the usual resale sites), with around 20,000 people believed to have attended.

While the festival started relatively smoothly, it soon became clear that local mobile networks were not up to the task of accommodating 20,000 people trying to connect to the game simultaneously, and the mood in the park quickly turned ugly.

Eurogamer’s Matthew Reynolds, who was at the festival, writes:

By the time proceedings officially kicked off and were being streamed on Twitch to fans around the world, I couldn’t even get a phone signal – and nor could anyone else. I struggled to send simple SMS messages (remember those?) to keep the team back home abreast of what was happening. For an event entirely dependent on everyone having an internet connection, it was nothing short of a catastrophe.

Within the 90 minutes from early doors to the opening ceremony, the mood had turned sour. Though Niantic were quick to assure crowds they were looking into the connection issues, it wasn’t enough. CEO John Hanke was booed as he walked on stage, while brash heckles and chants of “fix our game” rang out as bubbly presenters did their best to keep the show going. It was uncomfortable viewing, and later scenes were uglier still. A water bottle was thrown at one of the on-stage presenters – the unwelcome outcome of a disappointed few’s emotions boiling over.

Niantic largely blamed mobile carriers, with Hanke saying most of the problems were due to “over-saturation of the mobile data networks of some network providers”, and refunded all attendees, as well as gifting in-game credit and a free legendary Pokémon.

“Had my client known he would spend the majority of the event waiting in lines and unable to play the game, he would have stayed in California”

This, says lawyer Thomas Zimmerman, isn’t enough, and doesn’t reimburse for those who travelled large distances – many from outside the US – to attend what he calls a “flop” of an event.

In a class-action lawsuit filed in the circuit court of Cook County, Illinois, yesterday, Zimmerman, of Chicago-based Zimmerman Law Offices, is seeking monetary damages to cover the travel expenses of lead plaintiff Jonathan Norton and a group of other festival attendees.

Zimmerman says connectivity problems were amplified by hours-long queues to get into the park.

“Attendees waited in line for hours to enter the fest, missing out on scheduled programming and exclusive in-game content available only to those with paid, activated wristbands at the fest,” reads the complaint. “The fest was plagued with internet connectivity issues related to overburdened cellular towers, in addition to Niantic’s own malfunctioning game server and software, rendering attendees unable to play the game.”

Zimmerman comments: “Festgoers were unable to complete timed in-game challenges to collect special rewards, or collect previously unavailable or rare Pokémon. Had my client [Norton] known that he would spend the majority of the event waiting in lines and unable to play the Pokémon Go game, he would have stayed in California instead of paying money to fly to Chicago to attend the fest.”

 


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Rihanna doesn’t want to see you catching Pokémon

While many enterprising music venues are only too happy to take advantage of the worldwide popularity of Pokémon Go, it seems some performers and fans aren’t quite so keen.

After apparently catching people playing the augmented-reality (AR) game at a show last weekend, Rihanna, who was in France for the Anti world tour, was captured on film blasting the concertgoers for not paying attention. “I don’t want to see you texting your boyfriends or girlfriends,” said the Barbadian singer, apparently oblivious to the Pokémon with which she was clearly sharing a stage. “I don’t want to see you catching any Pokémons [sic] up in this bitch.”

At a 21 July show at the Stade de France, meanwhile, one fan was incredulous after seeing another catching Pokémon just feet away from where Beyoncé was performing.

“This bitch is finding Pokémon!” says Anand Desai-Barochia in an Instagram video. “She’s finding Pokémon when Beyoncé’s singing. Fucking Pokémon! Look at where she is. Look at where she is. She’s next to the stage!”

 

She's lucky Solange never saw her. Side note I'm never showering again.

A video posted by Anand Desai-Barochia (@ananddb) on

Over 15 million people are actively playing Pokémon Go worldwide. The O2 in London, the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC, the Hawthorne Theatre in Portland, Oregon, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra are among those capitalising on the phenomenon with exclusive offers for concertgoers.

 


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Venues promoting shows with Pokémon Go

As the Pokémon Go craze continues to sweep the world, several venues and artists are seeking to capitalise on the popularity of the augmented-reality (AR) game and its 15 million-and-counting players.

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra, which last night performed Beethoven’s Piano Concerto №1 at the Shaarey Zedek synagogue, offered free tickets to anyone who showed their in-app Pokédex (an encyclopaedia of caught Pokémon) to door staff.

It isn’t yet clear whether anyone took up the Detroit Symphony on their offer, but IQ has asked the orchestra if the initiative was a success.

Elsewhere, O2 Music is asking its Twitter followers to send them snaps of Pokémon they’ve caught at its UK music venues (the Academy Music Group venues and AEG’s The O2 Arena in London).

The responses? A Psyduck, Marina and the Diamonds and gonorrhoea (not sure the final two are Pokémon).

Venue 360, meanwhile – an events and conference venue in Luton, UK – hopes to lure in budding trainers by publicising that its kids’ play area is a Pokéstop (a place to stock up on Pokéballs and supplies), while the Beachfront Hotel in the Australian city of Darwin is this afternoon hosting its first Pokémon Go Happy Hour, with live music and a free barbecue near two in-game Pokémon gyms and a Pokéstop.

Portland, Oregon, music venue the Hawthorne Theatre (600-cap.) sought to attract Pokémon Go players to its seven-band Battle for Warped Tour showcase on Wednesday by inviting trainers to “battle for control of the Hawthorne Theatre gym”. It also bought ‘lures’ to make more Pokémon spawn around the venue and offered “Pokémon Go drink specials” for all ticketholders.

And Washington, DC’s 1,200-capacity 9:30 Club is offering a new merchandise and ticket promotion for players who battle their way to the top of the venue’s gym. “Next time you catch a show at the 9:30 Club (and you should catch ’em all), leave your mark by successfully claiming the gym to earn 50 points on your Friends With Benefits card, which can be cashed in for tickets, merch and more!” it said in a mail-out to members.

Pokémon Go 9:30 club mail-out

Spotted any more music businesses getting in on the Poké-act? Let us know in the comments!

 


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