I finally have an answer from official distro:
Regarding DNA license you have to buy the 3year license -A or -E (it's obligatory) no matter if you are using DNA/SD-access or not. So if you just want to use the CLI like with a 2960-X or whatever, you have to buy a 3 year licesene, but you don't have to renew it
I really have no idea who at Cisco had this idea and hope this is not the way Cisco goes for every switch. Can't imagine there are so many ppl out there willing to pay yearly license fees for a switch.
Do you still need to register it to Smart license portal even to use switching functionalities only?
Do you happen to have a link to where you found this information? Was this buried in the release notes for a software version for the 9200s?
Willing to pay? No
Paying because it's realistically the only game in town? Yes
Having to run an additional box (or give every switch access to the internet) purely to support "Smart" licensing - ewwww.