AcadArena to retire CONQuest Festival following lines, refunds fiasco

It turns out, the event was not a success.

In separate statements shared on their Facebook pages, AcadArena co-founders Ariane Lim and Kevin Hoang revealed that CONQuest Festival will be retired following the event’s fiasco involving long lines and refunds.

CONQuest 2023 was one of the most-hyped events of the year among cosplayers and gamers in the country. While the first day went quite well, days 2 and 3 were plagued with incredibly long lines and issues with the MeetZone. The lines were long enough that some ticket holders weren’t even able to go inside the SMX Convention Center.

In response, CONQuest organizer AcadArena announced refunds for those who weren’t able to claim their wristbands. This was announced at the end of day 2. Since then, it seems that refunds have not yet been processed for some attendees based on comments on the event’s social media pages.

Yesterday, a statement from the AcadArena founders was shared on CONQuest Festival’s official Twitter and Facebook pages. The letter contained apologies to attendees, though it also mentioned that refunds have been closed and will no longer be extended.

Though as of June 27 at 9PM, the following statement was deleted:

Following the letter’s release, many attendees expressed their frustration in the comments and tweet replies, with many taking issue with the closure of refunds, as well as how the letter was worded. Many in the comments said that claiming CONQuest 2023 was a success is false given the negative experiences of many attendees.

This wasn’t the end though as hours after the letter was shared, AcadArena’s co-founders shared their own statements via their respective Facebook pages.

In their statements, CEO Lim and COO Hoang stated that they did not consider the event a success in light of what happened. They also mentioned that in light of the events, the CONQuest Festival brand will be retired as the 2023 event was “not reflective of how [they] want to produce events moving forward.”

While these new statements contradict the letter that they signed, Hoang clarified in his statement that he “greenlit a PR statement” that he has come to regret. Interestingly, the original letter is still on the CONQuest official pages (as of this article’s writing).

After some time though, the statement has been deleted on the CONQuest pages.

CONQuest being retired makes sense given how negatively the event has been received among attendees, even those who were lucky enough to not line up for hours on end. Though, the statements by the founders did not mention if AcadArena will be holding a similar type of event in the future, albeit under a different brand.

[Article updated on June 27 at 9PM to reflect new details]