Anyone who has played Pokemon since the beginning remembers the whole "okay, who brought the link cable?!" conversation (it was usually me, sometimes I brought two just in case). I've traded on school buses. I've traded in class. I've even traded at Christmas mass!
The Poke-social craze was real, and while online play and trading is a boon in many ways, it also completely changed the way a lot of people interacted with one another. Series producer Junichi Masuda agrees, which is why it took so long for the franchise to hit a console (that doubles as a portable).
Speaking to Game Informer in the latest issue of the magazine, Masuda explains that Game Freak thinks "it's really important to not have the experience be totally closed." He goes on to say that playing with friends "in the same space" is crucial to the DNA of the series, and even goes on to say that promo events are a big part of what makes Pokemon special for some people.
He explains: "We do that so you can go there to that location and you may run into a friend or meet somebody that you didn't know before and connect through the game...those moments turn into memories and add value to that Pokemon you get; every time you see it, you'll remember that experience, and we think those experiences are valuable."
I can't say that any event where I was required to walk into a GameStop was quite that magical, but I get where he's coming from. Now that the Switch is not only on the market, but popular, the new Pokemon shouldn't have any real trouble acclimating to this big new shift. Game Freak can still do their retailer-exclusive promotions for chunks of cash, and you can still bring Pokemon Sword & Shield to a friend's house for a local trade. Win-win.
Pokemon [Game Informer Issue 319]