Pokémon Sword and Shield may have a workaround for those of you without a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, if the official game listing is anything to go by.
The upcoming Pokémon games on Nintendo Switch are set to launch this November, though players wishing to take part in online bouts with each other would usually require a subscription to Nintendo's paid online service – as you do for the likes of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, or similar multiplayer games.
However, Sword and Shield seems to be doing things a bit differently, with an option to pay for online access for your Pokémon game alone.
The official Nintendo website cites the unusual payment strategy in the text below (emphasis our own): "Nintendo Switch Online membership (sold separately) and Nintendo Account required for online features. This game includes an in-game purchase option for users who do not have a membership. Not available in all countries. Internet access required for online features. Terms apply. nintendo.com/switch-online."
It's very effective!
By the sounds of it, even those without a full, paid subscription will have a way to partake in online battles, trading, and the like – though we're yet to see whether it would be a cost-effective alternative, given the already low $3.99 / £3.49 / AU$5.95 price.
It may make a lot of sense for those largely using their Switch as a Pokémon machine. After all, the Pokémon Let's Go games didn't allow players to make use of Nintendo Switch Online's cloud saves, to prevent reloading saves with Pokémon you'd traded away. A standalone purchase option that focuses on the online features, without having to pay for a save feature you can't use, may be a smart way to utilize the options available.