Your VPN introduces much needed privacy to your internet connection. It makes you feel safer online and gives you the opportunity to circumvent certain controls.
But do you need it for gaming? Well, actually, yes you do. The question is, does your VPN cut it when it comes to support for online gaming?
Why You Need a VPN for Gaming
Various arguments in favor of a gaming-friendly VPN spring to mind.
Console gamers on Xbox Live and PSN can, for example, access exclusive content from anywhere. Sometimes exclusive content is region blocked. That’s not going to stop you now!
From a security and privacy point of view, using a VPN for online gaming can help to protect you from security breaches. If game servers are not patched, vulnerabilities can be exploited. Rather than placing your complete trust in the game’s operators, use a VPN to encrypt your connection.
There’s a technical argument, too. Using a fast VPN with a server in the same region as the game server can help to cut ping time and latency. Pretty important for online gaming!
And from a more general viewpoint, with a VPN installed, you can download new titles when they’re launched. Don’t want to wait for a regional launch day? Fine! Just set your VPN server to one in the territory where the game is released.
Perhaps the most compelling reason for using a game-friendly VPN, however, is to ensure access to region-blocked content. Just like Netflix (and BBC iPlayer in the U.K.), games can be blocked depending upon your location. For example, Red Dead Redemption, Heavy Rain, and L.A. Noire have all been banned in Saudi Arabia. There are Netflix friendly VPNs and gaming friendly VPNs — in short, the block can be bypassed!
If you’ve now decided that you need a VPN for online gaming, it might be time to go shopping. Here are the services we suggest you take a look at first.
Note: Prices were correct at the time of writing. All services offer 7- to 30-day trial periods, but check terms and conditions for terms.
Currently the top choice in our list of the best VPN services, ExpressVPN is particularly suited to gamers. Whether you’re simply downloading games from a gaming network, or engaging in online dungeon play, ExpressVPN is a perfect choice.
Offering the tools to combat connection throttling, DDoS attacks (often used for cheating), and lag, ExpressVPN also offers 99.9 percent uptime and super-fast speeds (naturally limited by your own connection speed).
ExpressVPN features three plans: monthly ($12.95), bi-annually ($59.95), and annually ($99.95). Admittedly, these are more expensive than the other services listed here. However, there is support for Windows, macOS and iOS, Linux, Android, and routers, as well as OpenVPN compatibility. Better still, ExpressVPN makes it possible for you to pay if you’re based in remote territories, or prefer to keep your financial activity under-wraps. WebMoney, AliPay and Bitcoin are among the payment options. Note, however, that you will be restricted to three concurrent connections.
Find out more about ExpressVPN in our review of the service.
With unlimited P2P traffic, user friendly apps for Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, and even Amazon Fire TV, IPVanish is a good choice. There’s also OpenVPN support for other platforms, such as Ubuntu and Chromebook.
Their claims to be the world’s fastest VPN are difficult to assess, but with unlimited bandwidth 40,000+ shared IPs, on 850+ VPN servers in over 60 countries, you can be certain that coverage is good. An IPVanish subscription starts at a straight $10/month, or quarterly at $26.99. An annual subscription to IPVanish, meanwhile, will set you back $77.99. As you can see, this VPN service isn’t too expensive. But how does it suit gamers?
Well, it’s perfect for avoiding region blocking, and Bitcoin is a payment option. You’ll find the IPVanish team has worked hard to provide a service that reduces lag and latency, with multiple connections (on five devices) and unlimited server switching.
Claiming to be “the world’s most advanced VPN,” NordVPN certainly has a lot to live up to. But how does it fair for gamers?
To start off with, there’s the speed. Everyone needs a fast VPN, and NordVPN does not disappoint. There’s also a friendly attitude to P2P, which they don’t throttle. Online gaming relies on P2P quite often, so this is important.
NordVPN allows you to connect up to six devices simultaneously. In most gaming scenarios this may not be required. However, if you have multiple gamers in your home, and sufficient bandwidth, it’s a great way to ensure that everyone gets to use the VPN. (The better solution is to set up a VPN on your router, by the way.)
NordVPN is available monthly ($11.95), bi-annually ($42), and annually ($69). It’s perfect for avoiding region blocking restrictions has no bandwidth limit, and has apps for Windows, macOS, iOS and Android, with support for setup on consoles, smart TVs, routers and more.
4. Buffered VPN
You may not have heard about Buffered VPN previously, but if you’re a gamer looking for faster speeds, lower latency, and all the other benefits a virtual private network delivers, it’s certainly one you should consider.
Pricing is $12.50/month, $93/year, or $60 every six months. This puts it in the same price bracket as ExpressVPN, but Buffered VPN only has servers in 37 countries. Having said that, it offers an ultra-fast service, unlimited bandwidth and server switches. On the other hand, the payment options are limited, with just the standard credit cards or PayPal options.
While Buffered VPN allows P2P on any server, it only has a limited selection of client apps. If you’re not using Windows or macOS, you’ll need to use OpenVPN instead. The advantage of this is that you’ll be able to use OpenVPN on games consoles, mobile devices, or even your router.
A popular service available on Windows, macOS, iOS, Android and pretty much any other internet-connected device, PureVPN has over 500 servers and 80,000+ IPs around the world. You can subscribe for $10/month, $53.70 for six months, or $78 for two years, which is an immense discount.
But is it worth it?
The service styles itself as “The Best MMO Online Gaming VPN” and they’re certainly keen on attracting gamers. As such, PureVPN offer improved speed for MMOs, helping you to reduce lag and latency. There’s also protection against DDoS attacks, and dedicated servers for gaming in 141 countries.
Lightweight VPN client software also helps. While mobile clients may prove resource heavy on older phones, overall this is an advantage to be embraced.
Which VPN Do You Use for Gaming?
Other VPNs can be used for gaming, of course, but they’re unlikely to give you results on par with the solutions above. Of course, these are paid solutions, and you might be tempted to try a free VPN. If this is something you’re thinking about, we’d advise caution. Simply, free VPNs are for very specific circumstances and should not be used as a replacement for a paid VPN service.
Do you use any of these VPNs for gaming, online or otherwise? Perhaps you have a better suggestion than any of these? Tell us about it below!