Pokémon Home Has a Free Version, But It Doesn’t Go Far Enough

Pokémon Home, the long promised destination for all your old Pokémon to make their way over to the Switch and frolic in glorious HD, has been a bit of a mystery for some time. Pitched as an equivalent / replacement to Pokémon Bank, where players on the 3DS could keep all their creatures backed up on the cloud safely, the last few months have been filled with Pokémon fans wondering how this new service would differ from its precursor, particularly considering no Switch Pokémon games currently support a full National Dex, meaning some creatures could move to Home, but not from there into usable games.

Today, after months of speculation and at least one recent Pokémon Direct where no news was delivered, a quietly pushed out update on the Pokémon company website finally gave us most of the key information about what Pokémon Home is, what it isn’t, and how it’s going to work. We still don’t know critical information about how long Bank will stick around so people can transfer, or exactly what date Home will arrive, but we now know the make or break piece of information people were waiting for. Pricing, and features tied behind pricing.

So, here’s the breakdown. Considering Nintendo already has a paid subscription plan in place for those wanting to play Switch games online, many players had hoped Pokémon Home would be a free service, free of the subscription fees that Bank had. Many felt that Bank’s subscription was a little bit strong armed, as ceasing to pay risked losing your collection. This was mitigated by the ability to move your full collection back into a physical game like Ultra Sun or Moon, but still fans hoped for an end to a separate subscription for Pokémon storage. At most, the hope was that any charges would be in line with those of Bank.

As detailed in the above graph, Pokémon Home will have a free and a paid version, but the free version features a number of limitations which are going to be major issues to a lot of players. While limits on numbers of concurrent GTS trades and Wonder Trades feel like fair features to put behind a paywall, other features very much defeat the reason people wanted an unpaid SKU of Home in the first place.

Free Users of Pokémon Home will not be able to transfer their Pokémon collection from Bank to Home, meaning that at least one month of Home Premium will be required if you want to bring your Pokémon collection forward to the switch. One month isn’t so bad if you just want to bring forth monsters compatible with Sword and Shield., you can buy a single month of Home Premium for £2.69 and transfer any Pokémon in the Galar Pokédex to Home, then into Sword and Shield, then stop paying for home. The issue is more for anyone who wants to move their whole collection to Home.

The first issue, Home costs approximately £15 per year, a considerable step up from the £5 per year cost of Bank. Secondly, the Switch currently doesn’t feature a game like Ultra Sun and Moon where you can return your full Pokémon collection to if you want to or need to stop paying for the service. If you have a rough month and can’t afford Home, you can’t simply put your Pokémon back where they came from if they can’t move into Sword and Shield.

While Home features SOME free storage, 30 Pokémon doesn’t go very far at all. It’s such a pitifully small number it almost feels like a joke. You could move one box of Pokémon at a time from Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee to Sword and Shield, but it’s nowhere near enough to be useful as a permanent storage space. It feels like a joke.

Even when the upcoming Pokémon Sword and Shield DLC packs 1 and 2 have released later this year, adding 200 more old Pokémon back into the new games, there will still be around 250 old species not supported in Sword and Shield. If you’re someone with a living dex on the 3DS, that 250 ish species are never going to fit into the free storage space provided.

You may ask, why not leave your Pokémon on your 3DS until the whole national dex has support on the Switch some day and there’s a place for your creatures to jump ship to if you want to stop paying? Well, a big part of the worry is that Nintendo right now has remained hugely tight lipped on how long Pokémon Bank will be supported for. It is currently the only possible way to transfer your Pokémon collection from 3DS to Switch, and if they one day decide to phase it out, that could mean losing the ability to move over creatures. Additionally, players are reluctant to pay for two concurrent storage solutions, which is very understandable.

Lastly, as a side note, judging the stats of Pokémon is hidden behind this paywall too, which feels really bloody cheeky of The Pokémon Company. This means that while free Home users can trade with each other, they cannot check the IVs of the Pokémon they are reviving in a trade, which feels likely to cause trades based on false information to be tough to avoid.

I’m happy that Pokémon Home has some kind of free support, but it’s too little, and with too few answers about fringe cases. What happens if I move all my creatures over and my subscription lapses? What if I leave them on my 3DS Home and that service goes away? Right now, free version isn’t what anyone wanted, the paid version is charging three times as much for storage without an avenue to stop paying, and a lot of the answers that would put players at ease are simply not being provided. We asked for a free version of Home, but this feels like it’s being awfully cheeky.

Categories: Gaming