Pokemon transfer policy changes as Game Freak confirms you'll never be able to catch 'em all again

If you've spent the last 20+ years collecting 'em all in Pokemon and were excited about the prospect of Pokemon Home allowing you to transfer your entire collection to the first mainline Pokemon Sword and Shield then unfortunately, we've got bad news: you can't. Game Freak says this is due to "balance and development concerns" with the Switch game which didn't affect Pokemon availability in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon on Nintendo 3DS. If you're confused, let us explain further.

In a Pokemon Direct aired shortly before E3 2019, Nintendo announced Pokemon Home, a cloud-based storage system for all of your Pokemon which is accessible on iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch. It's completely possible to take some of your Pokemon from Ruby & Sapphire (physical) or Red, Blue & Yellow (Virtual Console) all the way through to Ultra Sun & Ultra Moon. From there, players were expecting to use Pokemon Home to take from their Pokemon Bank and transfer them to Pokemon Sword and Shield, but Game Freak has since revealed this won't be possible. More importantly, it won't ever be possible again.

The clip below, from the this year's E3 Nintendo Treehouse, is the moment Pokemon director Junichi Masuda explained it live: 

"What this means for Pokemon Sword and Shield is that players will be able to transfer their Pokemon from Pokemon Home, only if they appear in the Galar region Pokedex," Masuda said via translator. That was the translation shared on the Nintendo stream, but the reality could be much worse.

Over on 4chan (we know, but bear with us), one anonymous user more directly translated Masuda's words from the Nintendo Treehouse stream: "Because of this, from this game forward, our policy will change. The Pokemon that will appear will be specially selected to fit the stage of adventure." 

Take this with a grain of salt of course, but Google Translate and our own limited Japanese skills came up with similar wording, and this translation hasn't been disputed. What this means for the future of Pokemon is that each subsequent mainline Pokemon game will have a pool of monsters cherry-picked by Game Freak. And the overall number of Pokemon is constantly increasing; we're currently at 800+ Pokemon in total, but without knowing how many new monsters Sword and Shield will introduce, we could easily be at 1000+ by the time the ninth generation rolls around.

If your favourite Pokemon isn't chosen for Sword and Shield, well, tough luck. There's seemingly very little we can do about it. If you don't get lucky with the next games (Pokemon Catapult and Trebuchet anyone?) either, your Pokemon will simply be stuck in Pokemon Home limbo, unable to progress any further.

It would no-doubt be a huge undertaking to get 800+ unique Pokemon future-proofed for the next few generations, but it seems it may be necessary to keep the Pokemon fan base happy. It was also an... interesting decision to announce the paid-for Pokemon Home service and then reveal that it won't be that useful for the upcoming games. Fingers crossed Game Freak revisit this policy in the near future and update Pokemon Sword and Shield later down the line.

Ford James

Give me a game and I will write every "how to" I possibly can or die trying. When I'm not knee-deep in a game to write guides on, you'll find me hurtling round the track in F1, flinging balls on my phone in Pokemon Go, pretending to know what I'm doing in Football Manager, or clicking on heads in Valorant.