How to Download and Play Fortnite on Nintendo Switch

Play your favorite battle royale game on the go

A man playing Fortnite on a Nintendo Switch console.

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Epic Games' popular battle royale video game Fortnite is completely free to play on the Nintendo Switch. Like all digital Switch titles, it must be claimed and downloaded from the first-party eShop app. Here’s how to download and install Fortnite on Nintendo's hybrid home console.

The instructions in this guide apply to both the original Nintendo Switch and the Nintendo Switch Lite.

How to Download Fortnite on Nintendo Switch

You can buy a physical copy of Fortnite for the Nintendo Switch in stores. But, there's no Switch cartridge inside. All you get is a code that can be redeemed for the digital version of the game in the eShop, along with some in-game extras like cosmetics and currency. If you go directly to the eShop, you can download the game for free, without the extras. Either way, you need to download a copy of Fortnite to play it on Nintendo Switch. Here's how to do it.

  1. Turn on your Nintendo Switch and log in to your Nintendo account.

    If you have multiple accounts on your Switch, make sure you’re logged into the one you want to play Fortnite on.

  2. To open the Nintendo eShop, tap on its orange icon or select it and press A.

    Nintendo Switch Home screen.
  3. Highlight Search from the left menu and type "Fortnite."

    eShop on the Nintendo Switch.

    As you type, the on-screen keyboard displays word prompts above the letter keys. You can tap these to auto-complete words without having to type them out completely.

  4. Tap Search or press the + button on your Nintendo Switch controller.

    eShop on the Nintendo Switch.
  5. Tap Fortnite when it appears.

    Fortnite in the eShop on the Nintendo Switch.
  6. Tap Free Download or highlight the icon and press A.

    Fortnite in the eShop on the Nintendo Switch.

    Fortnite is a free-to-play video game, meaning you don’t have to buy it to play it. This is why the button says "Free Download" instead of the usual "Proceed to Purchase."

  7. You're shown a confirmation screen. Select Free Download.

    Fortnite in the eShop on the Nintendo Switch.
  8. Select Close to exit the Nintendo Switch eShop or select Continue Shopping to keep it open and view other video game listings.

    eShop on the Nintendo Switch.

    You don’t need to keep your Nintendo Switch fully powered on to download Fortnite after purchasing it within the eShop. The game continues to download when the console is placed in Sleep Mode.

  9. A Fortnite icon appears on the Nintendo Switch Home screen immediately. It flickers slightly and a download progress bar appears along its bottom while it's downloading and installing.

    Fortnite on Nintendo Switch.

    A video game download may pause if you use an app or another game that requires an internet connection. If you’re thinking of playing while you wait, make sure you only play offline.

  10. The game fully downloads once the image appears solid and the progress bar disappears.

While waiting for the game to download, create and link your Epic Game account following the steps below.

How to Create and Link an Epic Games Account

With Fortnite downloaded, you’re almost ready to play. There are still a few more things to do before you can dive right in, though. First, you need to create and/or link your Epic Games account to your Nintendo Switch.

An Epic Games account is required to play and it's used to save all game progress and user data to the cloud and sync it across devices. This means you can use your same Fortnite progress and friends list on mobile, PC, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and the PlayStation 4.

  1. On your computer, open your preferred web browser and go to EpicGames.com.

    If you already have an Epic Games account, sign into it on the Epic Games website and proceed to Step 7. 

  2. Select Sign In.

    Epic Games website.
  3. Select Sign Up.

    Epic Games website.
  4. Fill in the required fields and select Create Account.

    Epic Games website.

    It's a good idea to make your Display Name the same or similar to your username on your Nintendo Switch and other consoles so your friends can recognize you.

  5. You're sent an email to the address you used in the form. Select the link in this email to confirm the address and activate your Epic Games account.

  6. Once you select the link in the email, the Epic Games website opens up in a new browser tab and you’re automatically logged in.

  7. From the left menu, select Connected Accounts.

    Epic Games website.
  8. Select Connect under all of the video game networks you wish to play Fortnite on with the same account.

    Epic Games website.

    If multiple people use your computer and Nintendo Switch, make sure you’re connecting the correct accounts.

  9. With your Epic Games account set up and connected to your Nintendo account, you can now open Fortnite on your Nintendo Switch.

  10. Tap the Fortnite icon on your Nintendo Switch Home screen to open the game.

    Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch console.
  11. The game loads after a minute or two, and eventually you're shown a welcome screen. Press A to continue.

    Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch console.

    Fortnite is infamous for taking a long time to load, so don’t worry if you think it’s taking too long.

  12. You should receive a user agreement. Make sure to read it, then press Y to accept.

    Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch console.
  13. You may be shown a news screen with information on the latest game updates. Feel free to read these posts or press B to begin the game.

  14. When the game finishes loading, it automatically imports your Epic Games data into the Nintendo Switch version of Fortnite. Because you already linked your accounts on the Epic Games website, you don’t need to log into your Epic Games account on your Switch.

    Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch console.

How to Add Nintendo Switch Friends to Fortnite

To play with your Nintendo Switch friends in Fortnite, you need to add their Epic Games accounts to your Epic Games friends list within the game.

Epic Games powers pretty much all aspects of Fortnite, including player communications, matchmaking, and online games. The Nintendo Switch Online service isn’t used at all and isn’t needed to play Fortnite online.

Here’s how to import your Nintendo Switch friends within Fortnite:

  1. With the Fortnite game open, press the button on the left side of your controller.

  2. Press Y.

    Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch console.
  3. Highlight the button next to Enter Epic Name or Email and press A.

    Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch console.
  4. Enter your friend’s Epic Games username or their associated email address.

    Fortnite on the Nintendo Switch console.
  5. Press + or OK.

  6. A friend request is sent. Once your friend approves it, they appear in your Fortnite friends list.

Your Epic Games/Fortnite friends list is completely separate from your Nintendo Switch friends list.

Supported Fortnite Switch Control Options

Due to the number of actions required during a game of Fortnite, it’s impossible to play with just one Joy-Con on the Nintendo Switch.

The following play style controls are supported in Fortnite on Nintendo Switch consoles:

  • Two Joy-Cons within a Joy-Con Grip.
  • Two Joy-Cons connected to the Switch console and played in handheld mode.
  • Two separated Joy-Cons, with one in each hand.
  • One Nintendo Switch Pro Controller.

Detailed instructions on which buttons perform which actions can be viewed and changed in the main menu by pressing + once, A once, and R four times.