Nintendo Switch Online, the upcoming subscription-based service that is set to make online play a paid feature, might not be needed for free-to-play games.
A keen-eyed Nintendo Switch user has pointed out on gaming forum Reset Era that the Nintendo eShop descriptions for standard online titles and free-to-play online titles have a major difference. The former, say a game such as Minecraft, state: "From the full launch of the Nintendo Switch Online membership service in 2018, online play requires a paid membership."
But the latter group - including the likes of Dawn of the Breakers, Fallout Shelter, Fortnite, Galak-Z: Variant S, Kitten Squad, Paladins, The Pinball Arcade, Pinball FX3, Pokémon Quest, and Zaccaria Pinball - don't have that sentence on their Nintendo eShop page.
Though this is far from conclusive proof, which we won't have until Nintendo states it outright or will be confirmed upon Switch Online's launch in September, it does feel like an indication of the company's stance towards free-to-play games with online multiplayer. Its position would put it alongside Sony, which doesn't require PlayStation Plus for free-to-play titles. Microsoft's Xbox One, on the other hand, requires its Xbox Live Gold subscription service for any kind of online play.
Even if this were to not turn out to be the case, Nintendo Switch Online is much more affordable than its counterparts, priced at $4 per month, $8 for 3 months, and $20 for the full year. You can also pick up a family subscription, for groups up to eight members, at $35 for 12 months.