Whenever most gamers see the words “VPN gaming,” they hit alt-F4 as quickly as they can. Because that doesn’t belong anywhere near an online player looking to make sure they get that next frag, right? Sure, having a good latency for online gaming is essential, and virtual private networks have a reputation for slowing down connection speeds.
A high ping is any gamer’s bane and can turn what was supposed to be a Chicken Dinner-worthy game into a better-luck-next-time let down. So do VPN services slow down the connection, resulting in a higher ping? The simple answer would be “probably.” In reality, it gets a little more complicated than that.
It makes sense that a VPN might slow down a connection speed a little. Because the VPN acts as a third-party middleman through which data is traveling, adding an extra step along the way. But a good VPN service won’t slow down the network to a noticeable degree.
When choosing a VPN server to connect through, there are a couple of considerations one needs to make. First, of course, is which VPN service to use since not all are created equal. It’s also a good idea to choose a region that’s close to where the gaming session will take place. This will minimize the time needed for the data to travel from the PC through the VPN to the game network.
Why use a VPN for Gaming?
Why choose a VPN at all, right? It has the potential to create a higher ping – why would anyone use it while gaming? Well, besides the advantage of safer web browsing, a VPN for gaming has four main benefits:
It allows people to switch between different regions in games that are geo-locked
Everyone who has had the displeasure of playing on a slow game server will know why this is a big deal. There are many reasons why a person would want to be able to choose a different region’s servers to play in. But often a game automatically assigns a player to a specific server based on their physical location. Since a VPN has the ability to route a player through a server in a different region, they can select other servers to play from. That’s because their real IP address is hidden.
It allows people to gain access to geo-locked games and content
While it doesn’t happen all that often in the West, sometimes games or game content is region-specific or not available in some regions. This is much a much more common occurrence in Asian countries, however, where some game developers only make their games available in those countries.
Then there’s also the issue of some games and content being banned by governments for various reasons. One of the more infamous examples involved Britain banning Manhunt 2 in 2007 for its extreme violence. Another interesting case saw Malaysia ordering ISPs to block the Steam Store in order to stop people from being able to buy Fight of Gods.
A VPN is a nice workaround for this issue, since VPN users don’t have to stick to their country’s region-based IP addresses.
It protects game accounts by making the player’s IP address anonymous
While being able to choose the server for playing is a huge benefit, there is another positive to having an anonymous IP address – namely safety. The world is becoming much smaller thanks to the marvels of technology. Unfortunately, this has some downsides too, and online gaming isn’t immune to the dangers that lurk in the dark corners of the web.
Remember the GW2 DDOS attacks? For those who don’t know, Guild Wars 2 has been plagued by intermittent DDOS attacks for years now, affecting players and booting them off games. It’s not the only online game to fall prey to cyber attackers either. No one really knows why cyber attackers do this, apart from perhaps boredom, but it’s still a frustrating experience.
DDOS attacks aren’t the only thing gamers have to worry about though. People’s game accounts get hacked daily and sometimes the attackers even get access to other sensitive information that way. Passwords, credit card details – nothing is off limits to these people. It can be a devastating experience to find out that a game account has been hacked and access to it has now been barred. All games, progress, and account currency are lost until the account can be gotten back – and that doesn’t always happen either.
An anonymous IP and encrypted traffic make it much harder for a hacker to gain access to any player’s account. So whenever someone wants that extra bump of security, it’s essential to start looking at a VPN.
It stops ISPs from throttling gamers for playing online
It’s not legal for ISPs to throttle their users based on their internet activities, but recent research shows that this has, in fact, been happening. Gaming might not be as high on the list as streaming movies when it comes to ISP throttling. But it’s still a good idea to nip a potential throttle in the bud before it starts affecting your gameplay.
Gamers in Australia, for instance, have been struggling with ping and rubberbanding issues while playing online games for years now. The culprit seems to be ineffective network configurations by ISPs in the region, which slows down internet connectivity. It can be highly frustrating to experience lag no matter which game is being played. For online FPS games, it’s a virtual death knell. That’s why Australian PUGB players have resorted to using VPNs as a solution for their ping issues.
VPN gaming isn’t an all-powerful solution
While VPNs have many benefits attached to them, they aren’t infallible. It may be much harder for attackers to gain access to a person’s online activities, and by extension gaming, but it’s not impossible. Just harder. Attackers who are dedicated enough and have enough money to carry out their agendas will eventually find a way.
And sometimes they don’t even need to try that hard. A VPN can’t stop anyone from downloading malicious software or entering their details into fake phishing websites. So even the best VPN for PC won’t be able to protect someone who doesn’t protect themselves through safe online behavior.
The top 3 best VPNs for gaming
Many people want to save some money and make use of a free VPN. The term “free VPN for pc windows 10” is an extremely common search term. The problem is, free VPN services aren’t reliable. Think about it – they have to make an income somehow. So that usually involves selling their users’ data to third parties and advertisers. Some free VPNs might even be a ruse that infects users’ devices with malware.
So here are some of the best VPNs for gaming, based on their connection speed and security:
IPVanish comes out as one of the all-around best VPN for gaming choices because it offers a polished service with fast connection speeds and servers in over 60 countries. This VPN comes out as a solid contender in most of the private tunnel VPN reviews out there, with one of the lowest latency changes.
The only real downside to the IPVanish VPN is that the service is on the pricier side. So if you have to keep a budget in mind, you might need to look for cheaper options. Unfortunately, IPVanish doesn’t offer a free trial either, so it won’t be possible to test whether it suits one’s needs before buying.
NordVPN is currently one of the most popular VPN service providers out there, and for a good reason. This service came out on top across multiple reviews for upload and download speeds as well as latency testing. Some reviewers even said that the latency reflected their normal rates during the test.
NordVPN is also one of the best options when it comes to security and offers support across multiple devices. The service also supports a ‘no logs’ policy which offers true anonymity to its users. NordVPN has a few subscription options starting with one month through to one year.
According to many reviewers, VyprVPN has one of the fastest connection speeds around with a very small influence on latency. This is because of its worldwide network with thousands of servers across the globe.
Again, picking a server that’s close to the user’s location will result in the most optimal latency results. So this is a great option if you see even a slight ping increase as a major concern. It’s even possible for a user’s normal latency to decrease with a VPN should the server be close enough. VyprVPN also offers some impressive services that span across an extensive variety of platforms to boot. The service has two pricing options, basic and premium, as well as a free trial. So players can test whether this option works best for them before buying.
Any hardcore gamer who doesn’t want to worry about safety issues or getting throttled by their ISP needs a VPN in their life. VPNs have come a far way from what they used to be. So anyone who sticks with a good, fast VPN doesn’t have to worry about any latency issues in the future.