In order to access the online features in Pokemon Sword and Shield—trading, versus battling, or cooperating raiding—you need to be subscribed to Nintendo Switch Online (NSO), which costs $19.99 per year. When Pokemon Home launches next month, however, players without an NSO subscription will be able to do some online trading for free so long as they have a mobile device.
A representative for The Pokemon Company confirms with USgamer that Pokemon Home will not require an NSO subscription. The practical upshot of this is that so long as a player also has a compatible iPhone, iPad, or Android device, they will be able to participate in Wonder Box, GTS, and Room Trades via Pokemon Home without needing to pay for either NSO or Pokemon Home's premium service.
Trades will only be a feature on Pokemon Home's mobile app, but they're not among the features that are locked behind the service's premium plan. Free users can put fewer Pokemon in the Wonder Box and GTS at a given time and can't host Room Trades, but that's still better than not being able to trade online at all without an NSO subscription.
As revealed earlier this week, Pokemon Home's backwards compatibility with Pokemon Bank and its Judge function for checking your Pokemons' stats will both be locked behind Home's premium plan, priced at $15.99 a year. That's more than triple what a yearly subscription to Pokemon Bank costs, which had many fans balking at the price when combined with that of an NSO subscription.
Yes, to get the most out of Pokemon Home along with Sword and Shield, you'll need to pay for Home's premium plan and NSO—but at least the free mobile trading means folks who just want to do a trade here or there won't be limited to local trades only.
With two chunks of paid expansion pass content on the horizon, though, Pokemon Sword and Shield are looking more like live service games a la Monster Hunter: World. For a lot of players that'll entail additional costs beyond the price of the game, but with Sword and Shield already nearly having surpassed the lifetime sales of Sun and Moon, it seems plenty of people aren't put off by this new approach to the formula.