Pokémon HOME’s friend trades are limited to nearby players
Pokémon HOME released on the Switch eShop and mobile devices earlier today, but for some players, there’s already one major drawback.
After exploring the mobile app following its release, and wanting to test its features, I (a person who lives in rural Tasmania) attempted to use the Friend Trade feature with a friend who lives in Melbourne. After many attempts, we eventually gave up, assuming the constant errors were a result of launch day troubles. However, after poking around in the app’s support documentation, I stumbled upon the following:
“Your Friend will need to be nearby in order to trade with them.”
That’s right folks: in Pokémon HOME, you cannot normally trade with friends without being in the same room as them.
Initially, it would seem there are ways around this; Pokémon HOME also features a way of trading called “Room Trades,” in which up to 20 people enter a room, offer up a Pokémon to the room, and each member randomly receives one of the Pokémon on offer. It is possible to join a friend’s room, but there’s no way to limit that room to just you and a friend — and if a room doesn’t have the required amount of players, you both get kicked out. So even with that feature available, there’s no way to use this to force a one-on-one trade. Even if you could, Room Trades come with a further set of restrictions: you can’t trade Mythical Pokémon.
Given the app’s always-online nature, and the fact that trading Pokémon is something that is largely unrestricted across the globe with the app’s other features — such as the aforementioned Room Trade, Wonder Trades, and the Global Trade Station — it’s hard to imagine a reason that such a restriction would be necessary at all. One could argue that it encourages players to pay for a Premium subscription; hosting Room Trades is a feature restricted to the Premium plan, but with the restrictions that come with that, and the fact that Friend Trades are already limited to 10 per day, these two features are far from fulfilling the same niche.
Of course, we currently don’t know why Friend Trades are restricted entirely to local communication. It could be that The Pokémon Company is concerned about potential abuse that could come from unrestricted global trades, or that the tech behind it simply isn’t set up to allow it at this stage. This is just day one for the service, and changes could very well happen in the future, especially given that Pokémon GO integration is currently not available, and slated for a future update.
But in its current form, all this restriction does is discourage global coordination with friends, and perhaps as more of a personal grievance, prevent rural and otherwise isolated players like myself from filling their Dex, and having fun with friends. For some, local Friend Trades will be enough to satisfy their needs, but for others, this is a major — and seemingly unnecessary — blow to the functionality of an app that asks for $25 a year.