Many people use VPNs while gaming to get a better experience. But why exactly should you do that? What kinds of perks do you get?
We’ll give you a crash course in gaming VPNs in this article. We’ll tell you what a VPN is, how it works, and why gamers use it.
If you’re new to gaming with a VPN, we also recommend following that link. It takes you to GamerGirl – a ProPrivacy blog that teaches you everything you need to know about VPNs, gaming, and staying safe online. We’ll also give you a decent intro to this topic, but ProPrivacy’s blog covers more in-depth info.
With that out of the way, let’s dive into gaming VPNs!
What Exactly Is a VPN?
To keep it simple, VPNs are online services that do two things:
- They hide your IP address.
- They encrypt your traffic.
Here’s how a VPN works: you use a VPN app to connect to a VPN server. All your Internet traffic is sent through the VPN server which encrypts it end-to-end (only the VPN app and server can decrypt your data). Because you communicate with the Internet through the VPN server, only the server’s IP address is visible. Websites and online users can’t see your real IP anymore.
VPNs sound like complicated tools, but they’re actually simple to use. Like we already said, you just need to use an app to establish a VPN connection. That’s it! You don’t need to perform any complicated manual setups or deal with command lines.
Why Would You Use a VPN When Gaming?
So how exactly can a VPN make gaming more enjoyable? Well, here are a few perks (we tested them all ourselves and can confirm they’re the real deal):
VPNs Stop Bandwidth Throttling
In a nutshell, bandwidth throttling is when ISPs intentionally slow down their users’ online speeds because they use too much data. For example, your ISP might throttle your Dota 2 speeds if you binge it so much that you consume too much bandwidth. If that happens, your matches will take longer to load, they’ll be laggier, and you might even randomly disconnect.
Here’s how a gaming VPN helps – it encrypts your traffic. That way, ISPs can’t spy on your data packets to see what online services you’re using. They won’t know what online games you’re playing, so they won’t be able to throttle your gaming speeds.
Our team in the US ran a few tests, and they confirmed that they had slightly better speeds than usual during long gaming sessions while using a VPN.
VPNs Bypass IP Bans
Sometimes, you’re just unlucky and come across unfair admins that IP ban you for cheating (when, in reality, you’re just good at the game). Those situations are frustrating – especially since you don’t get a chance to defend yourself.
Well, with a VPN, you do! It hides your IP address, so the IP ban no longer affects you. Sure, the admin might IP ban you again, but you can easily evade the block again by just switching to a different VPN server.
VPNs Unblock Geo-Locked and Censored Content
Some video games only let you game on servers in your own region – tough luck if your friends are from other countries or continents!
You can solve that problem with a VPN. Just connect to a server in the same country as the server you want to play on, and you’ll get access to it. The gaming server will think your traffic is coming from the VPN server’s country, not your region.
Also, some countries censor or ban video games. Australia is the best example we can give. It has a long list of banned video games. Things have gotten so bad that people have had enough and are calling for changes to the classification system.
VPNs can bypass that kind of censorship. They let you browse the web using a different IP – the VPN server’s IP address, to be exact. That way, you’re not using your IP which has firewall restrictions linked to it (the one that say you can’t play those games). Just connect to a VPN server in a country where the censored games are available, and you’ll be able to instantly play them.
VPNs Reduce Ping and Lag (Sometimes)
ISPs don’t always route your traffic efficiently. If you play on a server that’s a few countries away, your ISP might send your traffic through multiple stops until it reaches the gaming server. That causes ping times and lag to be higher.
With a VPN, there’s a chance your traffic will take a more direct route. Instead of making a few stops along the way, it will go straight from your device to the VPN server and then to the gaming server (as long as the VPN server is in the same country as the gaming server).
This isn’t guaranteed to happen, though. When we tested this perk, we sometimes had lower lag and ping times. However, other times, we didn’t see any improvements.
VPNs Prevent DoS/DDoS Attacks
These are cyber attacks that leave you without Internet access. Basically, a cybercriminal (or even a wannabe hacker) floods your network with so much unwanted traffic and requests that it’s forced offline. DoS attacks only force you offline for a few minutes or up to an hour, but DDoS attacks can leave you without Internet for a few hours (at least).
DDoS attacks are pretty common in gaming (especially Fortnite). Sore losers use them to get back at other players. And it’s actually easy to run DDoS attacks – you just need at least $10 per hour to rent them!
VPNs protect you from DoS/DDoS attacks by hiding your IP. Without it, hackers can’t target your network to flood it with useless traffic. They can DoS/DDoS the VPN, sure, but these services have anti-DDoS protection on their servers.
The Bottom Line
VPNs are tools that hide your IP and encrypt your traffic. They can be great gaming tools because they can help you unblock censored games, play on geo-locked servers, avoid DoS/DDoS attacks and IP bans, and prevent bandwidth throttling.
If you know other good reasons to use a VPN while gaming, please tell us about them in the comments.