An interesting discovery has been found in some Nintendo eShop fine print. From the sound of things, Pokémon Sword and Shield may not require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription to play online. Included in the normal disclaimer stating that a subscription is needed to play online, a second clause has been added. The clause states: “This game includes an in-game purchase option for users who do not have a membership.”
This statement has only been spotted on the listings for Pokémon Sword and Shield. After doing some digging on other major releases, this does, in fact, appear to be a unique circumstance. That said, Nintendo has not yet confirmed any in-game purchase. This would set a new precedent for online play, making Sword and Shield the first games to offer such an option. Below is a screenshot of the listing, as well as one for Super Mario Maker 2 for comparison.
Pokémon has always been a multiplayer-oriented experience. Online trading has been a staple for collectors since Diamond and Pearl for the DS, but this would be the first time the feature would cost money. Still, it does make sense to offer this. If a player without a Nintendo Switch Online subscription wanted the full suite, it would cost $80 USD – $60 for the game and $20 for the year’s subscription. That’s twice the cost of past generations’ handheld Pokémon entries. This in-game purchase option might provide a cheaper alternative for such players.
If this does prove true, I could see this becoming a trend. Nintendo Switch Online has been a piece of contention to some fans, and this could be an interesting alternative that no other platform offers. Online players and Pokémon fans alike should keep an eye out for updates.