With the announcement of the new expansions for Pokemon Sword and Shield, which will add in more than 200 Pokemon from previous generations to the Galar region, there's been some confusion over what this means for avid Pokemon collectors.
The long and the short of it is that you won't need to buy the expansion pass in order to receive either the new or old Pokemon being added to Sword and Shield—you just won't be able to catch them in the wild. So, all of the complaints that Game Freak is charging people extra for cut Pokemon are glossing over the fact that all the new and returning Pokemon are joining the general Pokedex for Sword and Shield players, meaning they're (at the very least) tradable.
To make this brave new world (mainline Pokemon games with DLC, can you believe?) a bit easier to understand, here's a breakdown of the various ways Sword and Shield players will be able to scoop up all the Pokemon that are being added to the game.
Purchase Both Expansion Passes
Yes, this is the answer that does cost money, but considering that plenty of people purchase both versions of every Pokemon game in pursuit of a full Pokedex, it's worth mentioning up top. Like the games themselves, Sword and Shield are each getting their own expansion passes, which means that you'll encounter slightly different assortments of Pokemon across the two.
While that's pretty much in keeping with how the Pokemon games have always worked, owners of both games should know they're in for two purchases of $29.99 if they want to catch everything themselves. Or they could just buy the expansion for one title and then rely on...
Trading For The Added Pokemon
As confirmed in the Pokemon Direct presentation, Sword and Shield players who don't buy the expansion passes will still receive an update that allows them to trade for the added Pokemon. Presumably, within a few days or weeks of each expansion's release it won't be too difficult to arrange a trade for easy-to-breed Pokemon added in the updates.
Game Freak specifically says that Pokemon featured in the expansion will be available to non-owners "through other means such as trading," which could mean that that other opportunities to nab these monsters may present themselves. Already, to get players excited for the expansions, there's a new in-game event where players can capture a Galarian Slowpoke. Perhaps more events featuring expansion pass Pokemon will be made available to all players in the future.
Bringing Over Your Old Pokemon Via Pokemon Home
Technically, if you currently pay for Pokemon Bank, then this isn't a free way to collect these returning Pokemon in Sword and Shield since that service costs $5 a year. With the free February release of Pokemon Home, however, Home will take over as the main Pokemon repository app.
Pokemon Home will allow Let's Go Eevee, Let's Go Pikachu, and Pokemon Go players to transfer their Pokemon to the service, and will enable also transfers from Pokemon Bank. That covers all of the 3DS Pokemon games and, by way of a chain of transfers, a few generations before those. Pokemon Bank is even compatible with the 3DS Virtual Console versions of Pokemon Red, Blue, and Yellow. Transfers into Pokemon Home are one-way only except in the case of Pokemon Sword and Shield.
From Pokemon Home, you'll be able to transfer whatever Pokemon that are present in the Galarian Pokedex into Sword and Shield, which should account for most if not all of the 200 returning Pokemon being added with the expansions. While it's possible that there may be additional restrictions on the transfer system that we don't know about yet, Pokemon Home will at least be available on smartphones, which should hopefully make it much more convenient than loading up Pokemon Bank.
For more on Pokemon Sword and Shield, keep an eye on USG's guide section.