It's official: In February, trainers will be able to shove their Pokémon into a single storage to transfer their collection to different Pokémon games. Announced last year, the Pokémon HOME cloud-based storage system can be accessed by players using their iPhone, iPad, Android devices, and Nintendo Switch. According to a press release posted this morning, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company intend to make this a one-stop hub that will connect all your Pokémon games and apps together. If you're willing to pay a monthly subscription fee, that is.
As previously hinted, Pokémon HOME will require real money to store your digital pocket monsters. A 30-day subscription to the premium plan will cost $2.99. Then, it's $4.99 for 90 days and $15.99 for the whole year. Subscribing to the premium plan will open up more features such as transferring Pokémon from the 3DS titles using Pokémon Bank, the ability to deposit up to 6,000 Pokémon, creating rooms to trade in, and checking on the strength of your Pokémon with a 'judge' function.
A free, basic plan is also available, but its features are vastly reduced in comparison. There's no access to the Pokémon Bank, only 30 Pokémon can be stored in the system, and you cannot host a trading room.
There's also a difference between whether you access Pokémon HOME from your Nintendo Switch or a mobile app, too. Mobile devices won't be able to handle moving Pokémon from the latest games like the Pokémon: Let's Go! series or Pokémon Sword/Shield. But you can use both the Nintendo Switch and the mobile app to transfer your old school Pokémon using Pokémon Bank.
There are also features you can only access using your phone — judging and trading Pokémon, getting Mystery Gifts, and checking battle data, for example. For some reason, Nintendo has listed these features as mobile-only.
There's another caveat to Pokémon HOME the press release warns about. If you take a Pokémon from Pokémon: Let's Go Eevee! and transfer it to your HOME storage, you can put that Pokémon back in the game with no problem.
However, if you take that Pokémon from Let's Go Eevee! and transfer it from your HOME storage to Pokémon Shield, then you won't be able to transfer it back to Let's Go Eevee! anymore.
In other words, at this time, only Pokémon Sword/Shield have Pokémon that can go back and forth from HOME. The Pokémon coming from the Bank are traveling one-way; they cannot be moved back to the Bank or their respective 3DS game once they've been put into HOME. If the Pokémon from the Let's Go series stay in HOME without going to Sword/Shield, they can go back to their original game. At this time, the newer Sword/Shield Pokémon cannot be transferred to any of the older titles.
It seems a little confusing on paper, but perhaps it's easier to understand once players can access the service and fiddle around with it. There's no precise release date for Pokémon HOME, but February is the month to keep an eye on. Nintendo plans to celebrate the release of their cloud storage service by offering transfers through Pokémon Bank and Poké Transporter (which is basically like Bank but for even older titles) to free users for a month after HOME's release.