The Pokémon Global Link, an online system supporting online tournaments, ranked play, and cloud saves, is to be withdrawn in February 2020, reducing the feature set of "Pokémon Sun and Moon" and "Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon" on Nintendo 3DS after the launch of "Pokémon Sword and Shield" on the Nintendo Switch.
Now that "Pokémon Sword and Shield" have launched, the near-identical pairing together becoming the Nintendo Switch's fastest-selling title in the process, The Pokémon Company is drawing in some of the features supporting older games "Pokémon Sun and Moon" (2016) and their expanded successors "Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon" (2017).
From February 24, 2020, the Pokémon Global Link will close, calling time for games that need it for ranked online multiplayer, official online competitions, and the Game Sync cloud save functionality; casual online multiplayer remains active.
During the course of its announcement, The Pokémon Company anticipated that "Pokémon Sword and Shield" would "provide services similar to the PGL's Rating Battles and Online Competitions" on Nintendo Switch.
The two "Sword and Shield" games, identical save for some exclusive characters that encourage players to trade with one another and, in some cases, buy both copies, are in fact the second set of "Pokémon" games on the Nintendo Switch.
The "Pokémon: Let's Go!" duo, released in 2018, were presented as a bridge into the console franchise for relative newcomers, following the wild success of smartphone game "Pokémon Go," and a more casual stand-in for those eagerly waiting a mainline "Pokémon" game.
Pokémon Global Link features had been incrementally withdrawn from older "Pokémon" games in a similar manner over the course of its 10 year run.
The Pokémon Company, part owned by Nintendo and independent "Pokémon" studios Game Freak and Creatures, had already outlined plans for a new online service, Pokémon Home, in May, several months before the November release of "Sword and Shield."
Pokémon Home is expected to launch in early 2020, placing its introduction around the same time period as Global Link's retirement.
The announcement, which prompts remaining "Sun and Moon" players to adopt "Sword and Shield" as well as the Nintendo Switch console and ecosystem, not only follows the debut of those more recent games but comes just prior to a busy end-of-year holiday shopping season.