A VPN for gaming sounds kind of counterproductive, doesn’t it? The heavy security protocols and relaying your internet connection to a different server can only slow your connection down, right? Wrong. A VPN for gaming is a viable alternative to using your normal internet provider. That is, if you choose the right VPN provider for the job.
What to look for in a gaming VPN?
Several things are important when looking for a VPN for gaming. First of all, you will want access to as many locations worldwide as you can possibly get. This increases the chances of you finding a VPN server with the performance you need for gaming. It will most likely take a little time to find out which server performs the best, especially in countries that are popular VPN locations, such as the United States. Depending on your intended gaming use, there are several other things to keep in mind.
Test: what’s the best VPN for gaming?
Unfortunately, not every VPN provider has a large VPN server park for you to choose from. Because of that, performance may differ greatly per provider. A lot of countries are poorly represented when it comes to server availability. If you are looking for the best VPN for Japanese games, the big guys will have around five or six Japanese VPN servers available. Same goes for Korean games/Korean servers, which should enable you to play your favorite MMO with minimal lag involved. These Asian countries have a solid internet infrastructure, but are lacking in server availability. Doing your research can save you a lot of trouble. So think hard on what you want to do with your VPN. In any case, according to our research these are some of the top VPN services for gaming.
Express VPN does surprisingly well in just about every category. This VPN provider is top of its class for both gaming applications and streaming of series and movies. They have a large server fleet available, so you have lots of options to choose from – and all the servers are speedy and reliable.
- Large server fleet and available countries
- Good apps for different operating systems
- Good speeds
- Relatively expensive
- No free trial
NordVPN has the most VPN servers available of all currently active VPN providers. Not every server maxes out your speed, so the abundance of choice is important when trying to find one that meets your performance requirements.
- Sizeable server network in 56 countries
- Fast connections and IKEv2 protection
- Supports Netflix, Bittorrent and Tor
- Free 3-day trial
- Some servers are unstable
- App could have been more elaborate
5 Euro VPN understands what gamers are looking for. Reliable servers and lightning fast connections, everywhere around the globe. Their special Speed Boost-technology enables 5 Euro VPN to surprise its users. Combined with the low pricing, 5 Euro VPN becomes an easy first choice.
- Fast and really cheap
- No restrictions
- Very user friendly
- Free trial
- Relatively small server park
- Mobile apps lack advanced features
Unlock games early
A lot of games these days are released in digital form on digital storefronts. This presents some interesting opportunities for gamers who want to be among the first to play newly released games. The average digital game release happens in phases. Each phase represents a different time zone on the globe. This means, for instance, that we can play a game in the EU several hours before it unlocks in the United States, but a lot later than a gamer in Australia. By using a VPN server in the region where the game unlocks first, you can start playing at the earliest possible time. Believe it or not, this is a big deal for those who livestream their games and want to present (e.g. on YouTube) their impressions of a new title to their fans first. This location trick works for most PC games, as well as console titels on Xbox One, Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch, as long as your consoles are safely tucked away behind the VPN-connection.
Most games are released in New Zealand first. Make sure the provider you pick has servers available there. Australia is a good second option.
If you are looking to unlock your games early with a VPN, check if the provider of your choice has servers available in New Zealand. Usually, most games release in this region first. If there are no servers there, Australia is often a good second option. Be mindful that the VPN server speeds in these regions can be a lot slower compared to those in Europe and the US. The best VPN for gaming in Australia will most likely pale in a speed comparison to a server in Japan, even if the geographical distance to both countries is massive from the EU. Contrary to using a VPN to use regional pricing, the chance of a platform banning you for unlocking a game early is minimal. Officially it is against the rules of most gaming platforms, but they don’t seem very worried about this phenomenon.
Play games anywhere using a VPN
Those same region restrictions you see in movies and tv shows, are often also applied to games. Some titles are blocked in certain regions, because they show things that are illegal in these regions. If you are traveling to these countries, for business as a for instance, you will find that these games on you laptop suddenly no longer work. By logging into a VPN server in your home country, you are able to find working servers again and start up you favorite game for some well-deserved downtime.
Germany is a country where VPN is quite popular, mostly cause of censorship of games. For a long time it was forbidden to show human blood in games in Germany, which lead to developers making specialized versions of their games. If you find your game has green blood, it is most likely a specialized German version of this title. Titles like the Wolfenstein games, which feature an alternate universe where the Nazis won WWII, are understandably modified to not show swastikas and the like. A lot of Germans wanting to play the original versions, use VPN to buy games in other regions.
Unlock special items in-game
Gaming on your smartphone is more popular than ever. More and more games are being released, and some of these use your location. The ever popular Pokémon Go for instance, depends on GPS and your IP Address to properly relay your location to the game. These games require you to go to real world locations in order to catch the titular Pocket Monsters, or complete certain tasks. You are of course, meant to ‘catch them all’. But there are special Pokémon out there to be found, and they are tied to specific locations, sometimes even specific continents. There are also countries where the game has not been released, and you are dependent on a VPN for Android or iOS to even download Pokémon Go from the Android- or Apple store.
To these fans a VPN, paired with a GPS Spoofer, is the only way to be able to complete their collection. Using a gaming VPN for Android or iOS you can relay your internet signal through another location. This can lead to some nice perks, such as that illusive Pokemon you could not find in your own region, or battling it out with a friend halfway across the world. We do have to note that using a GPS Spoofer will take a little looking around. They are usually not simply downloadable from the Appstore. You may have to ‘Root’ your device, in order to be able to start up programs from outside the Appstore. Because these applications are not checked for malicious code by Google or Apple, they can harm your device, and you privacy.
Developer Niantic is also constantly trying to block GPS Spoofing and the corresponding apps. Recently there was a large wave of apps blocked, but these are usually modified quickly to be able to run again. A quick Google-search teaches us that there are still plenty of working GPS Spoofers out there for Pokemon Go. These include versions that do not require you to ‘Root’ your device. Be sure to use your VPN when using these hacks, so that your data always travels through the secure VPN tunnel.
Get gaming deals with a VPN
The average level of income can differ quite a bit per country. To make sure that everybody can enjoy their games for a fair price, a lot of companies choose to price their wares differently from countries with a higher average income. Comparable to using your VPN to get the best prices on plane tickets, you can use your VPN to net you some sweet gaming deals. These discounts can be significant, but keep in mind that developers and storefronts are taking the hit for your cheap game. They are often not happy with customers skirting the region restrictions. While buying a physical product on a disc, this is often not a problem. Nowadays, very few physical games contain region locking, so you are free to try and find the best deals for these. Just keep in mind that imported games can sometimes lack things like localization. That Japanese RPG you imported, may not contain English text at all.
If you want to use a VPN for Japanese games, you need to be on the lookout for a provider that has ample servers available in this nation. The connection speeds are less important, as you’re not trying to play games, just buy them from a website. Do keep in mind that a lot of webshops do not ship outside of their own region, so you will need to find one that is able to ship to your location. There are also services available that allow you to ship items from abroad to your home address.
Pay regional prices
If you like to buy your games digitally, things get slightly more complicated. Steam, the largest gaming platform on PC, has put in a lot of effort to make sure that you cannot buy games outside of your own region. With good reason, as a lot of their regional prices are significantly lower than in an average European country. The same game that sets you back fifty Euros, can cost a fraction of that in India. Steam is absolutely not happy with customers trying to abuse this system. They may even decide to ban your account from being able to purchase items in their store. This means you can still access the games connected to your account, but you will no longer be able to purchase new ones, or trade on the Steam marketplace.
If you are adamant on using a VPN to exploit regional pricing, we advise you to make a secondary account with a local address for the region you want to use. This way, you will not risk your main account catching a ban. Besides Steam, there are a lot of other platforms that allow regional pricing. A VPN for Bethesda, Ubisoft or the Epic Games Store can make back its original investment quite easily. Do note that out of the above list, the Epic Games Store does not allow regional pricing, to the detriment of people wanting to play their games in low income regions. Also keep in mind that the policies of these companies can change. If they suddenly decide to act on these infringements, the consequences for your account may be severe.
Protect yourself from DDoS attack with a VPN
With the recent surge in competitive online gaming, the use of DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks against gamers has been on the rise. This attack overwhelms the connection with data requests, making your internet practically unusable. The first time we saw these attacks was after the incredible success of a small game called Minecraft. People can run their own Minecraft servers, on which others can play. Some of these became so popular, and were earning so much money, that some overly enterprising youths decided to make sure that the competition would be eliminated. They invented a service called a Webstresser, which enabled them to easily use a DDoS attack against the Minecraft servers of the competition. Eventually, they realized they could make even more money by offering their webstresser as a service to others, leading to a large number of attacks.
One of the more talked about examples is the Christmas 2014 attack on Sony and Microsoft game servers. During the most busy weeks of the year, their services were completely taken down for days, impacting millions of gamers worldwide. With this success in the back of their minds, we have even seen DDoS attacks being used to attack individual gamers. It can be quite a pain when suddenly your game completely stops working because your internet connection is overloaded with traffic. All because someone halfway across the world can’t handle losing. These DDoS attacks are dependent on your IP address to relay this traffic to. If you have a direct connection to another player, there are often ways for the other party to find out where the traffic is coming from and input that data into a stressing service.
A false IP for security
If you use a VPN for gaming, your IP address is untraceable. Any attacking party will only see the IP address of the VPN server you are connecting from. As most VPN providers ensure their systems are protected from DDoS attacks, you may not even notice anything. If an attacker manages to somehow completely disable your VPN server, you can always just reconnect via another one. This makes is practically impossible to find your connection and overload it with data. If you have speedy servers available in your own region, you should not even have any trouble with lag or other delays related to your connection. So what should you look for if you’re worried about these kinds of attacks?
First of all, it is very much worth the trouble to see how a VPN provider protects itself against DDoS attacks. Oftentimes this is not noted on the frontpage of the provider, so you may have to dig a little deeper, or ask an employee. Second you need to make sure that there are plenty of fast servers available in your own region. This way you are always able to find a reliable and speedy server to switch to in a worst case scenario. As just about every VPN worth its salt will change your IP address, you don’t really have to look this up when choosing which VPN for gaming you want to use.
Play games with friends in other countries with VPN
You can improve your connection to others with a gaming VPN, despite the heavy encryption usually involved. For example: if you want to play a game with your American friends on an American game server, but you are located in Europe. If you use your regular ISP to connect to the game server, your data will most likely take several different paths to its destination. Each packet will try to find the most optimal path to its destination, but will also use several in between stops. All these stops add a little bit of delay, and if your data actually takes different routes to the game server, you may even lose some data along the way. This shows up in the game as other players appearing to lag, or even teleporting from place to place, as the game cannot parse the player positions correctly.
If you use a VPN to directly connect from an American server, your data takes only 1 path to get to the US. No more hops causing slowdown in between and no more data being relayed through entirely different paths. This will not only ensure that less data is lost, but can also ensure a smaller distance from the VPN server and the gameserver. This leads to an improved connection. Of course all your data is still being sent to the United States, so the connection will never be as good as when using a local server. However, a VPN for gaming can ensure a lot less delays then your regular provider can. If you manage to find a speedy US server with a good path to you, you will pretty much always see an improvement.
Gaming via LAN with VPN
LAN? Isnt that my local network? Exactly, LAN stands for Local Area Network and this is comprised of the connections that run behind your router in your own home. To make sure that all your devices can share the same internet connection, your router sets up its own internal network for your home. All your devices connect to this network, and through there to the internet. If you have multiple PCs, or consoles in your home, you can also use a LAN connection to play games without using the internet.
Before internet connections became fast enough for online gaming, LAN was the way to go if you wanted to play with others. Nowadays, LAN is still supported in a lot of games, and even some console games allow you to setup a local network for multiplayer. Some older games are only capable of using a LAN connection, and sometimes you want to play games without connecting to the main servers, and only play directly with someone else.
Using specialized programs like LogMeIn Hamachi, or XLink Kai you can easily connect these games to someone who is not on your actual local network. These free applications let you set up a LAN network over the internet, which allows you to play with up to five others. These applications do this by creating a VPN tunnel to protect all traffic and make sure it runs directly to the source network.
The best free VPN for gaming
Despite of it seeming completely counterproductive, you can indeed gain an advantage by gaming with VPN. Because there are so many combinations of games and possible ways to use a VPN, we can’t cover them all. But the above pointers should at least help you on your way in finding a VPN that suits your needs. It will take some research to find a VPN that covers all the bases, but our list of Top 10 Best VPN Providers should be able to help. Of course, you need to setup your VPN correctly, for which we have a handy guide available. If you have everything setup correctly, you will have the freedom to enjoy your games the way you want to and with whoever you want to.