The Switch version of Fortnite won't require a Nintendo Switch Online subscription in order to play.
he majority of current online Switch games like Mario Kart 8, Mario Tennis Aces and Splatoon 2 will be switching over to the subscription, meaning even if you've been enjoying playing them online for free so far, you won't be able to once the service starts. However, Epic Games has confirmed that Fortnite will continue to be free to play online whe the Switch's subscription-based service comes online on September 18.
It's been rumored for some time that free-to-play titles may avoid becoming part of the Switch's online subscription, and this has now been confirmed by Nintendo in their FAQ for the service. While the guide doesn't directly state that the free-to-play model is behind the decision, it does explicitly call out Fortnite as an example, stating "some games, such as Fortnite, can be played online without a Nintendo Switch membership." In all likelyhood, this will mean that other free multiplayer games like Paladins will also remain free following the launch of Nintendo Switch Online.
This is great news for any Switch owners for who Fortnite is their only online game, as well as for younger fans reliant on the funds of parents or carers to be able to take part. Whether any paid titles will have the chance to opt out of the service remains to be seen, as smaller indie titles like Morphies Law may not wish to reduce their playerbases even further due to the subscription requirement.
The Nintendo Switch Online service starts on September 18 in the US and grants access to cloud saves, a selection of multiplayer NES games, and other as of yet unannounced bonuses. One month costs $3.99, three months cost $7.99, and a 12-month subscription is $19.99.