Long gone are the days when games were associated with nerdy guys who always locked themselves up in their parent’s basement. Rather, gaming has now become a part of our lives, with more than 155 million people playing video games in the US alone. The gaming culture has also changed with online gaming growing exponentially over the last few years. However, even though now you no longer need to physically sit next to an opponent, online gaming comes with risks and problems that call for the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
VPN for gaming
A VPN works by encrypting all your internet or gaming traffic and then securely tunneling it to a server of your choice. This VPN server spoofs your real IP address and gives you a new one. The IP address you get belongs to the region where the server is located. The result of all this is that your connection is secured, and you gain a new online identity. You no longer access the internet directly through your ISP server but through a VPN server.
Why do I need a VPN for gaming?
Whether you play online or not, there are many reasons why you should consider using a VPN for Gaming. Here’s a list of the most important ones:
Access geo-specific content
Some games can only be downloaded or played online when you are in a particular region. For example, if you are in Asia and want to access a game only available in the US, you would need to connect to a VPN’s US server.
Get games early
Various games have different release dates depending on your location. For example, if a game is being released in France before you can access it in your region, you may change your online identity location and connect to a French VPN server. This allows you to see the internet as if you were actually in France.
Reduce Ping Times & Lag
As an online gamer, you need a stable connection with low latency. A poor connection can be the difference between life and death, especially if you are playing a game that has bullets flying at you like COD. With a VPN, you can connect to a server close to the source gaming server, which will reduce your latency. However, you need to use a fast VPN like ExpressVPN or NordVPN to avoid getting slow speeds.
Protect yourself from DDoS attacks
Competitive gaming is prone to Distributed Denial of Service Attacks (DDoS), where your IP address is used to bring your connection down. These kinds of attacks are usually carried out to make you lose the game but can also have other disastrous effects. This is a huge security risk that can easily be avoided with a secure VPN.
Play multiplayer games in any region
When you want to play online, most games normally connect you to players in your region, depending on your IP address. If you wish to play against opponents from a different region, you need to change your online identity with a VPN.
Avoid ISP throttling
Some ISPs usually throttle your internet when they notice that you’ve been transferring a lot of data. Playing online games is data intensive, and when you get throttled, a VPN can overcome all restrictions placed on your connection by the ISP.
Stay private & secure your data
A VPN with a strict zero logs policy and robust security like ExpressVPN ensures that you can conduct your online activities without the spying eyes of your ISP and government. A game console itself can pose relatively little data risk, but if you play online on your smartphone, you definitely need a VPN. Data theft from mobile phones is quite easy especially when connected to public wifi hotspots, most of which shouldn’t be trusted. With a secure VPN, you won’t have to worry about data theft, and you’ll be able to remain private.
Do all gaming platforms support VPNs?
A VPN can be used for all gaming platforms. However, some can’t have a VPN installed directly. Most of the top VPNs provide client apps for almost all platforms. These include Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS and various routers. If you use any of the above to play games, then you can install a VPN for gaming.
However, if you own a console, you can only install a VPN indirectly through a DD-WRT router. If you are techy enough, you can configure the VPN by yourself on a compatible router. Otherwise, you can buy a pre-configured VPN router. For example, ExpressVPN has a section where they suggest you the best VPN routers that you can buy through Amazon. They also give you instructions on how to install a VPN on your router.
With a VPN router, you can use the VPN connection on all your devices, or the ones you choose thanks to split tunneling, a feature you can also find with ExpressVPN.
How to choose the best VPN for gaming
Gaming is not a light-weight task, and you therefore need to consider a VPN carefully before you purchase it. Otherwise, you might end up not using the VPN. To make sure you choose the best VPN for gaming, here are some factors that you need to consider:
All secure VPNs tend to slow down your speeds by a certain percentage. However, some VPNs are generally faster than others thanks to better architecture and many high-bandwidth servers.
You need a VPN that provides VPN clients for almost all your gaming platforms. This means a VPN client for your computer, smartphone, and router.
To wholly open up your internet freedom, you need a VPN that has servers in almost all regions of the world. Further, the servers need to be many in number to make sure that you are not logged in with many other users in the same server.
Some VPNs don’t have servers that support P2P. Such VPNs can disappoint, as some popular games like PUBG use peer-to-peer connections to facilitate multiplayer gaming.
A good VPN for gaming should give you the option to customize your connection. This is especially the case when it comes to the protocols you can use. A protocol determines how secure or fast your connection is, and the more freedom of choice you have, the better. When you are using a secure network, and you don’t need much security, you can use a lighter protocol than OpenVPN (e.g. PPTP) to encrypt your data. This will lead to improved speeds and general performance of the network.
Privacy & Security
In today’s world, a VPN is very crucial, and you shouldn’t use it just for gaming. A VPN is useful for legally accessing restricted websites, streaming privately, securing data, and more. You therefore need to choose a VPN registered in a privacy-friendly country, and that offers Zero logs. The VPN also needs to use the secure AES-256 encryption which is impenetrable.
Top 3 VPNs for gaming
To help you make an informed choice and save you from the headache of sifting through tons of options, we’ve listed for you the best gaming VPNs that meet the criteria we’ve given above.
ExpressVPN is arguably the best VPN in 2018, thanks to its superb performance, high speeds, advanced features, and excellent customer support. The VPN is registered in the British Virgin Islands, which is out of the reach of the invasive UK data retention laws. This helps the VPN in its promise of a strict zero logs policy.
ExpressVPN has 2000+ servers spread across 148 VPN locations in 94+ countries. The speeds you get are excellent, and most of the servers support P2P. The VPN has client apps for almost every device, and even has a SmartDNS for gaming consoles, in case you don’t need any encryption. The VPN gives you 30-day no-questions-asked money-back guarantee.
NordVPN is another excellent VPN for Gaming. The VPN is registered in Panama and keeps Zero logs, which makes it good for privacy. Security is also solid thanks to the use of AES-256 encryption and the additional option of double-VPN and Onion over Tor.
NordVPN boasts the largest server network, with over 5100 servers in 62 countries. The massive number of servers ensures that you always get superb speeds, and there are also servers explicitly dedicated for P2P. The VPN supports all gaming platforms, thanks to their router support. The VPN has a hassle-free 30-day money back guarantee in the odd case you are not satisfied with their service.
CyberGhost is based in Romania, another good choice for VPN registration. This helps the VPN keep its promise of zero logs, which is good for privacy. CyberGhost has been growing exponentially since last year, and it’s now a top VPN for gaming.
The VPN has 2900+ servers in 59 countries, a number that has more than doubled in 2018 alone. There are many options to customize your VPN connection, and VPN also offers the solid security. P2P is allowed on many servers, and you can always get your money back within the first 30 days.
Using a VPN for gaming brings with it a lot of benefits and opportunities, as we have seen. The key to unlocking them all is simply by choosing the right VPN for gaming. With the options given above and having been equipped with all the knowledge you require to get started, you can now go ahead and maximize your gaming experience!