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Attendees of Pokémon fan convention “Pokéverse” report barren expo hall, high prices and miscommunication, and child safety concerns

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Empty Pokéverse expo via @BintuRita
Held over the weekend of May 31st to June 2nd, Pokéverse was an unaffiliated, “Made by Fans for Fans” Pokémon convention held in Mandaluyong City, near Manila in the Philippines. Since the convention, congoers, vendors, and even its own celebrity guests have come online to discuss the many issues they encountered, from its unusually high ticket prices and table fees to concerns with how it treated its Make-A-Wish child guests. While some attendees are reporting their positive experiences online as well, it’s clear that Pokéverse was far from being “The Premier Pokemon-Themed Expo in the Philippines” it was billed to be.

Prices and activities
A standard one-day ticket for Pokéverse was ₱1,000 PHP ($17.01 USD), while the 3-day VIP pass came in at ₱19,500 PHP ($331.65 USD). In @BintuRita’s comprehensive Twitter thread about her experience at the con, she compares the event to a similar 3-day convention charging about half that much. Despite Pokéverse stating that part of the high ticket price was to accommodate its international headliner fees, their biggest-name guest, Veronica Taylor, the original voice of Ash Ketchum in the English-language anime, stated she did not receive any money to appear.

Also despite the high ticket price, attendees were disappointed in the activities available, showing off pictures of empty, undecorated areas and activities that aren’t Pokémon-themed. Twitter user @cheshire_sisiw snapped a picture of the “underwhelming” and “low-effort” meet-and-greet area for Veronica Taylor and Jason Paige, the singer for the original English-language anime theme song. The advertised “Trainer Quest” VIP ticket activity, meanwhile, turned out to be a series of tasks just to post different pictures of the event on social media.


Vendors and artists
While the corporate sponsors for the event seemed to have large and extravagant displays, independent vendors and artists report miscommunication and mistreatment by the organizers of the con. Fiber artist Marie Angelique detailed her experience as a merchant at Pokéverse, citing issues with lack of support for vendors. “[N]o effort was given to highlight merchants,” said Angelique, “The only people included on most postings were the big sponsors and headliners.” She concluded by saying the artists felt like a small and unimportant part of Pokéverse.

Prospective vendor @w334800, who eventually backed out of attendance due to miscommunication by Pokéverse, shared that he was expected to pay ₱9,000 PHP ($153.07 USD) for a 1m table, 50% more than he was originally quoted for a 2m table. Both artists say there were major delays with communication, with there being about 3 weeks between @w334800’s initial inquiry and when he was sent the form to sign up.


Safety concerns
Another reason given by Pokéverse for the high ticket prices was crowd control, “ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for families and children.” Despite this, attendees report no lounge for cosplayers, leading them to get dressed and adjust costumes right on the con floor, in addition to the rest area being significantly smaller than advertised. Security also seemed unequipped to handle pranksters at Pokéverse.

Perhaps the most egregious safety concern, however, was regarding Pokéverse’s collaboration with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a charity that grants “wishes” to critically-ill children. Make-A-Wish held a booth at the event where attendees who made donations played games and won prizes. However, many con attendees felt uncomfortable at an unscheduled session on the main stage in which ill children who were in attendance with the Make-A-Wish Foundation were brought up in front of the crowd. Allegedly immunocompromised children in medical masks were presented and introduced themselves while being live streamed to Facebook. Attendees were horrified, with previously mentioned artist Angelique saying the stunt “felt wrong.”


Pokéverse’s response to the onslaught of criticism has been disappointing for attendees. @BintuRita states that her multiple requests that photos and videos featuring her be taken down from official Pokéverse accounts have been delayed and ignored. The con presented an overall disorganized and underwhelming experience for some fans, despite their ticket prices and big-name meet-and-greets.
 
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KelsiDavis

KelsiDavis

Bulbanews Writer
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