Fortnite on Switch does not require Nintendo Switch Online
However last week Nintendo Switch Online was launched which means a subscription is required to play Switch online. Seeing as Fornite is predominantly an online game, this should pose a problem for players of the game — however, it seems you can play the game online anyway.
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Players of Fornite on the Switch have been enjoying online play without Nintendo Switch Online as it seems the game is exempt from the normal rules for online play — Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and other games all require a subscription to play online.
However curious this exception is, it does follow the trend of the free-to-play game being — well, free. PlayStation Plus isn’t required to play it online on the PlayStation 4, and of course it doesn’t cost to play online on PC or mobile devices.
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The game is free to play on Switch, and has cross-play capability with Xbox One players (who, interestingly, do require Xbox Live Gold to play online). Given that Fornite has already been released on a huge slew of devices, it’s likely that Nintendo letting it slip under the rules to an extent in order to keep it on top of the competition — no-one would pay to play it on Switch if they could play it on their phone or computer for free.
Of course, the fact that it’s free now doesn’t mean it will be forever. Nintendo may decide the exemption is temporary, and charge users at some point in the future. However it does set the precedent for other games to not require Nintendo Switch Online too — the Nintendo Support website states “some games, such as Fortnite, can be played online without a Nintendo Switch membership”.
For now, you can enjoy the freedom to play the game on whatever surface you decide.