The Pokémon GO Tour 2023 is stopping in New York City from August 18-20, 2023.
Courtesy of Niantic
More than 70,000 people will be trying to “catch ’em all” across New York City from Aug. 18-20 for the biggest-ever Pokémon GO Fest event.
For the first time since its launch in 2017, the annual Pokémon GO Fest is coming to Randall’s Island and other parts of the Big Apple for in-person hunting and scavenging for rare Pokémon and community building across all the players, or trainers, as they are called in the Pokémon world. Around 80% of the Pokémon GO Fest attendees will be arriving to New York City from out of town.
Pokémon GO trainers will use their mobile app to navigate around the city’s plazas, boulevards, and green spaces in search of as many Pokémon creatures as they can find. Randall’s Island Park, which will have four “physical Pokémon habitats” to explore and photo opportunities using augmented reality, will serve as the main venue for trainers.
Michael Steranka, director of Pokémon GO, told amNewYork Metro that Niantic Labs, the Pokémon GO game developers, is unique in what it brings to its fan base. The app has been downloaded more than one billion times, according to the company.
“Our games are rooted in the real world and very different from any other mobile, console, or PC game that players can enjoy,” Steranka said. “We really feel like live events are kind of a unique opportunity for players to engage.”
Steranka quickly pointed out that the organizers have learned how to ensure that trainers stay connected to their apps from past festivals.
“We work very closely with cell providers to make sure that the cellular connectivity is strong and ample for the tens of thousands of players catching Pokémon throughout the event space,” Steranka said.
Pokémon GO Fest trainers will be challenged to catch new Pokémon — shiny and mythical — being released through the app, including those being released early in New York City before anywhere else in the world. Trainers will be able to catch more than 50 different Pokémon species.
“One of the most exciting Pokémon that’s going to be debuting in New York as an early access for players is Mega Rayquaza, which is a huge fan favorite,” Steranka said. “It’s a great opportunity for people who either have never played Pokémon GO or maybe haven’t played in a while to get into the game because you’ll get a huge jump start on your account.”
New York City continues to be one of the most popular places to play Pokémon GO, with a high density of “PokéStops” and “gyms,” according to Steranka. The festival will not only revolve around the thrill of the hunt, but also the opportunities to explore New York City’s food, art, and culture.
“What’s happening on Randall’s Island is really only half the experience,” Steranka said. “We also really want players to explore New York City.”
Steranka shared memories of people proposing to their significant others at Pokémon GO festivals, including one couple spending they first leg of their honeymoon flying from London to Osaka and now to New York City to continue their celebrations.
Dali Bains and Anne Bains, the recently-married couple on their honeymoon, will be in New York City for all three days of the festival to catch Pokémon and catch up with trainer friends they’ve met at past Pokémon GO festivals.
“The reason my partner plays is because of me,” Dali told amNewYork Metro. “Pokémon has been a big part of my childhood growing up.”
Anne has since jumped on the bandwagon and continues to accompany her husband on trips around the world to catch Pokémon that may be exclusive to a certain city. In New York City, the Bains have their eyes on the big parks.
“There are some hotspots where loads of players will be playing,” Dali said. “We plan to play within Central Park and Bryant Park.”
Dali said there are now places he’s been for Pokémon Go that he otherwise would not have gotten a chance to see, if not for his love of “collecting things.”
“It gives me that added reason to actually go out and both explore the city as well as playing a game that I enjoy, and more importantly, playing a game that other people are enjoying,” Dali said.
Steranka shared the three primary creative pillars holding up Pokémon Go: real world social interactions, exploration, and exercise. He said that when people travel around the world for the festivals, there’s a real opportunity here to discover a brand new city or if you’re a local, a brand new park, through the lens of a beloved game.
“We really believe that the total gameplay experience for Pokémon Go isn’t just what happens on your phone,” Steranka said.”Oftentimes folks are are walking essentially for eight hours straight. It’s just an incredibly unique and fun experience that no other game really offers.”
There are still tickets available for Friday and Sunday for New Yorkers to join in on the fun and can be purchased for $30 at: gofest.pokemongolive.com.