Well, this was unexpected. Lately, both Nintendo and The Pokémon Company have been pretty diligent about making sure people know about the timing of big announcements before they happen. Guess this one either doesn’t qualify to them or they just didn’t want to overshadow the recent Pokémon Sword & Shield Expansion Pass announcement. Either way, tonight details and pricing for the long-awaited Pokémon transfer application, Pokémon HOME, were revealed on a dedicated website launched globally. Before going into my thoughts on this (and I have a few), let’s break down what was revealed.
First off and most importantly, the pricing. Given that the last transfer application they released, Pokémon Bank, had a yearly cost of $5 we were all expecting there to be some fee attached. The good news is that they have a variety of pricing schemes, including a free tier, the bad news is that the cost tripled to $15.99 annually (or 30 days for $2.99 & 90 days for $4.99). This isn’t really the end of the world, and you don’t need a Nintendo Online subscription to use the application from what we can see (although most Pokémon players are likely already going to have one). There are really only 2 tiers, free and premium, and the features they have break down as such:
|Moving Pokémon from Pokémon Bank||Unavailable||Available|
|Number of Pokémon that can be deposited||30||6,000|
|Number of Pokémon that can be placed in the Wonder Box at once||3||10|
|Number of Pokémon that can be placed in the GTS at once||1||3|
|Room Trade||Participate||Participate & Host|
Obviously the Premium account is basically required to get the most out of the application as I’ll get into in a moment. If you’re really just going to use the application for some simple transferring between games then you can easily get by with the free option, and that’s pretty good!
Now for the meat & potatoes of the app. There’s a whole bunch of stuff mentioned in that list above that won’t make much sense if you’re new to the franchise, so let’s look at the features:
So storage is the core of what this app is about, but how does the storage work? Transferring from other titles. This is probably the main reason most fans are going to buy into this app, especially if the full National Dex is ever added back into the mainline switch games. Even if the full national dex never comes back (god, we hope that won’t be the case) the rotating roster of Pokémon alone will make the moving function worth looking into because you’ll be able to transfer up from the 3DS generation into the switch generation and that’s something fans expected from the get-go. The free version appears to let you free transfer between the switch versions (although Let’s Go Pikachu & Let’s Go Eevee can only transfer TO Sword & Shield, not vice versa) so if you’re a new player then you’re set. The Pokémon Bank transferability is where things get a bit dodgy because Pokémon Bank requires a subscription fee as well. That basically makes this a $20 app for anyone looking to preserve their legacy monsters. Pokémon GO support won’t be added until a later date, so we don’t know if that’s locked to premium or not yet.
I’m not going to explain how the transferring works in great detail, suffice to say that anything transferred to Sword & Shield cannot be transferred back to the software it came from. Refer to this handy diagram for more details:
This is the core element of Pokémon HOME. Much like Pokémon BOX, My Pokémon Ranch, and Pokémon Bank before it, this tool is meant to give players more space for their Pokémon collection. One nice element to HOME is that it has its own Pokédex and will register any new additions transferred in according to its National Dex number. Gigantamax and alternate formes are also registered with additional entries. The Pokédex function looks great on smartphones, complete with some exclusive features such as abilities lists, based on the screenshots they’ve shared too, which is honestly really cool as a novelty.
They do mention that gifts are rewarded through the application, and while no specifics are given there was a task in the previous box programs that rewarded you for completely filling the capacity. I’d be willing to bet that’s the case here too.
This is probably the most surprising inclusion as far as I’m concerned. Trading has long been relegated to the games themselves, but players who have Sword & Shield are painfully aware that as far as online trading goes all we have at the moment is surprise trades (or as I like to call it, the instant Dreepy generator). Pokémon HOME adds the Global Trading Station (or GTS) back into the fray, as well as a new Wonder Trade system that can function even when the application is closed. In addition, the room trade system from Sword & Shield is present, along with direct trades with friends. It’s very full-featured and I can see applications where this would be incredibly convenient when trading with others.
I wouldn’t normally give something this its own heading but since it’s something that differs between the free & premium tiers it’s worth being singled out. This functionality allows you to check the battle viability of Pokémon that are stored in your Pokémon HOME account. It’s super helpful in-game, but given that this will require you to transfer to & from HOME to use I just don’t really see the point here. Most people who will care already have a solid grasp of what level their Pokémon are at even before opening this app. I guess it doesn’t really hurt to add, but I don’t think it’s worth locking to the premium tier.
Besides the features listed above, there are several features that are also included in this application. As I had mentioned before, there are rewards you can earn by playing the game which are already announced to come in the form of new Pokémon as well as Mystery Gifts that can be transferred to Sword & Shield along with some Pokémon HOME specific gifts. You also earn Pokémon HOME points, which can be converted to extremely useful BP (Battle Points) in Sword & Shield, much like how Pokémon Bank offered. You earn these points by depositing more Pokémon, giving you even more reason to try and fill up the storage available.
In addition to the rewards that are offered, there are some interactive options as well such as “MY ROOM”, which acts as a news ticker & task manager for different things you can do within the application that also has some customizability available. There’s also a Pokémon news ticker (surprise surprise) along with a Battle Data tracker that lets you see what’s going on in the world of Sword & Shield ranked battles. This Battle Data isn’t going to be available at launch, but they’re advertising it nonetheless. Something to look forward to if you’re a fan of the competitive aspect of the games I guess.
What I find a bit ridiculous is that most of these features are exclusive to the mobile app for some reason. Refer to the list below:
|Move Pokémon with Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee!||O||X|
|Move Pokémon with Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield||O||X|
|Move Pokémon with Pokémon Bank||O||O|
|Receive Mystery Gifts||X||O|
|Check Battle Data||X||O|
|Exchange Pokémon HOME Points for BP (Battle Points)||O||X|
It’s not really the end of the world, but I just don’t understand the point of locking things out of the Switch application and forcing people to move between both versions of Pokémon HOME to get the full experience.
I wish I could say that I was on the fence about getting this. There are a lot of things about it that seem pretty pointless to me considering the implementation, but the things it does allow me to do (such as transfer up from older games) is attractive enough for me to justify the yearly fee. I’m also a sucker for things like special Pokémon and Mystery Gift rewards in games, so those do sweeten the pot just a little bit even if they’re locked to the smartphone app. It does seem a bit underwhelming as a whole considering how long we’ve had to wait not only for data but also a release date (we still only have February 2020!) but it also offers more than previous storage applications so I really can’t bash it.
I wonder when they’re going to give us more details on Pokémon Sleep?