How to use a VPN for gaming

Hello, my name is Nicholas Cuts. I am an employee of SwitcherryVPN. This new blog post is entirely devoted to computer games. In this article, I’ll tell you why gamers should use a VPN and how to choose the best VPN for online gaming.

There is probably not a single PC user in the world who has never played a video game. According to polls, in the United States alone, more than 100 million users spend several hours every week playing this or that computer game, with the majority of gamers preferring online multiplayer ones, that consume significant Internet traffic. And as you’re well aware, a non-encrypted Internet connection jeopardizes the user’s security. This article will tell you what dangers await gamers that don’t take any measures to protect their traffic and ways to do exactly that. You will also find out if using a VPN provides gamers with any advantages and how to reduce the negative effect caused by the peculiarities of using a VPN.

A few words about VPNs

A VPN (virtual private network) is a modern technology designed to protect ordinary users from most online threats. A virtual VPN tunnel between the user’s computer and the VPN server protects the person’s online traffic from hacker attacks and being tracked, making it impossible for even the ISP to determine what websites the user visited and just what they did online in general. A VPN also allows you to hide the user’s own IP address by spoofing it with the IP address of the VPN server.

Anonymity and confidentiality are the most important benefits of using a VPN.

Should I use a VPN when playing online games?

VPN can help gamers protect themselves and bypass bans
VPN can help gamers protect themselves and bypass bans

The main thing that real fans of online games need is a high data transfer/reception speed with the lowest possible delay time (Ping). Using a VPN usually slows down your Internet speed to some degree and increases latency. Naturally, a question arises: do gamers even need to use a VPN when playing? But speed isn’t the only gameplay factor that matters – don’t forget about security and connection stability. And that’s where a VPN can help solve a ton of problems.

Using a VPN can help a gamer:

  • repel hacker attacks;
  • protect against DDoS attacks;
  • bypass an IP address ban;
  • protect yourself from swatting;
  • play games blocked in your country;
  • get early access to recently released games;
  • get access to game servers in specific countries and regions;
  • get access to cloud gaming services;
  • get access to messengers blocked in certain countries;
  • finally, get a more stable internet connection.

Protection against hacker attacks

Battles in online games often last for several hours. Some gamers spend whole days playing their favorite titles. And all the while, their Internet connection remains open and therefore potentially susceptible to hacker attacks. VPN clients are fully protected from this threat because the VPN securely encrypts all traffic and hides the user’s real IP address.

DDoS protection

DDoS attacks cause servers to stop functioning due to an overwhelming number of requests that it just can’t process. In esports, DDoS attacks are used as unfair ways to eliminate more successful competitors. DDoS attacks are carried out by IP address. If a gamer uses a VPN, then the attack is not directed at his own IP address, but at the IP address of the VPN server, which the gamer can change at any time. Plus, the best VPNs have their own DDoS protection measures.

Bypassing an IP address ban

Any online gaming service can block a user’s account for any reason they want, or even for no reason at all. The account and IP address from which the user entered the game server is blocked. By using a VPN, you can easily bypass the ban by logging onto the game server from a different IP under a new account.

VPN can help solve the problem of blocking the game account
VPN can help solve the problem of blocking the game account

Protection from swatting

Swatting is an evil and dangerous little gimmick that has been becoming increasingly widespread lately. Swatting involves a person calling in a false 911 call, claiming that a hostage-taking has taken place at a certain address. As a result, SWAT teams arrive to the indicate house and storm it, which may lead to innocent people getting hurt. Swatting can be caused by an online dispute, say, when heated players start insulting each other, with one of them finally deciding to resort to swatting. To “swat” someone, you need to know their home address. But if you know a user’s real IP address, it’s not really that hard to identify their home address. Since a VPN replaces the user’s real IP address with the IP address of the VPN server, all gamers using VPN are automatically protected from swatting. But keep in mind that if you yourself do not take basic precautions, then not even a VPN can help you.

These precautions are pretty simple: never disclose your real name in chats, and, moreover, do not tell anyone your actual home address!

And about how and why else you need to hide your ip address, read our blog.

Bypassing censorship

Internet providers in a number of countries, at the request of government authorities, prohibit access to certain games or even entire gaming platforms. A VPN, by encrypting traffic and masking the user’s own IP address, allows you to easily bypass all such bans and restrictions.

Early access to the latest game releases

Long-awaited games aren’t always released in all countries at the same time. Game publishers can provide early access to the latest releases only to residents of specific countries, with the rest of the world forced to just wait their turn. Gamers that who do not want to tolerate this kind of discrimination can easily get early access to new releases of any games by changing their own IP address to the IP address of the desired country using a VPN.

Access to game servers with a specific geolocation

Game services automatically connect a gamer’s computer to the nearest game server. But sometimes gamers want to connect to a server located in another region and even on another continent, for example, to compete with players from other countries. A VPN easily solves this problem by simply connecting to a VPN server in the country of your choice.

Access to cloud gaming services

Many popular cloud gaming services such as Google Stadia, Xbox Cloud Gaming, PlayStation Now and others are only available in certain countries. By changing your real IP address using a VPN, you can easily access these gaming platforms from anywhere in the world.

VPN can help solve the problem of blocking the game account
VPN can help solve the problem of blocking the game account

Access to Discord and other messengers

The Discord messenger is extremely popular among gamers. However, this messenger, along with some others, is blocked in certain countries, for example China. Once again, VPN comes to the rescue here – changing your IP address will help you unblock Discord anywhere in the world.

Stable internet

A stable Internet connection is crucial when it comes to video games. Some ISPs artificially limit (or stifle – throttling) the data reception/transfer speed or even terminate the connection if they see that the client has been receiving/transmitting a large amount of data at top speeds for a long time, while having a p2p connection, used in many online games, for example PUBG. In some cases, using a VPN can help solve this problem since  traffic encryption and tunneling will prevent the ISP from knowing what the client is doing online. At the same time, the VPN will ensure a more stable connection, meaning that while the maximum data transfer speed may drop and the minimal ping may increase, the average Internet speed will go up and the average ping time will go down.

How to choose the perfect VPN for online gaming?

As we mentioned earlier, Internet speed and connection stability are critical for gamers. It is equally important to have access to servers located in specific countries and regions. That’s why you should pick VPN providers that have the largest “arsenal” of powerful high-speed servers in many parts of the world. It is also advisable that the chosen VPN service gives its customers the option of choosing an encryption protocol, since using “light” cryptographic protocols such as PPTP can increase the data reception/transfer speed (albeit at the cost of security).

Why gamers should choose SwitcherryVPN

Now that you know the criteria for choosing a VPN for online gaming, we recommend that you check out SwitcherryVPN, which is arguably the best VPN for gamers. Here are our main advantages:

  • since the company has over 6,000 powerful high-speed servers with wide bandwidth, the negative impact on latency and the data reception/transfer speed will be minimal;
  • the company has servers on all continents, except Antarctica, in more than 70 countries, so the client-gamer will always have the opportunity to choose a VPN server located next to their game’s server in order to get the maximum data reception/transfer speed with minimum ping;
  • even on free plans, our clients enjoy high speed internet;
  • security, anonymity and confidentiality at high speeds and a stable connection – these are the main priorities of our company.

How to set up a VPN for video games on your device

Depending on which device you play your favorite games on, you can:

  • download and install a VPN client;
  • set up a VPN on your device’s operating system;
  • set up a VPN on your router;
  • Points 1 and 2 are suitable if you play on a PC, and option 3 is for console gamers.
Even a non-professional can set up VPN on any device
Even a non-professional can set up VPN on any device

Installing the VPN client

Installing a VPN client is the easiest part. Go to the corresponding page of our website and download the installation program for your device type:

Installing a VPN client is no different from installing a standard application for the selected operating system. If you need detailed installation instructions with screenshots – go to the corresponding pages on our website: VPN for Windows, VPN for Android, VPN for IPhone, VPN for mac OS.

Setting up a VPN directly in the device’s OS

Setting up a VPN directly on your device is more difficult than simply downloading and installing a VPN client. Start with contacting our tech support service to get the data you will need when installing the VPN: the VPN servers’ IP addresses, the username, the password, the type of the VPN protocol, etc. Since the configuration method is different for each operating system, go to the corresponding pages of our website for detailed instructions: VPN for Windows, VPN for Android, VPN for IPhone, VPN for mac OS. If you encounter any problems – don’t hesitate to contact our tech support. We’re always happy to help our clients!

Setting up a VPN on a router – for consoles

If you set up a VPN on a router, then all devices connected to it will be protected. This is especially convenient for console owners, as you cannot install a VPN directly on a PlayStation or any other game console. Before configuring the router, contact our company’s support service to obtain the necessary data: the VPN servers’ IP addresses, the username, the password and type of VPN protocol. You can find detailed instructions on how to set up VPN for different models of routers in our How to install a VPN on a router article.

FAQ

1. Can a VPN lower my delay time (Ping)?

1. Can a VPN lower my delay time (Ping)?

Using a VPN usually increases your ping. But in some cases, the delay time may not change and even decrease. The most likely reason for this phenomenon is the optimal geographic location of the high-speed VPN server, both in relation to the game server’s and the user’s computer locations. Also, latency can be reduced if your ISP artificially limits your Internet speed (see next Q&A).

2. Can a VPN increase my Internet speed?

2. Can a VPN increase my Internet speed?

If your internet connection is perfect, then a VPN will always lower your data reception/transmission speed to one degree or another. But, as independent studies show, in some cases, using a VPN doesn’t reduce Internet speed, and in others goes so far as to increase it. There can be two explanations for this paradox:

  • speed increases due to the optimal position of the VPN server and, as a result, better traffic routing;
  • if the ISP sets artificial limits on the speed for its customers, then using a VPN can sometimes really help increase it – but only if the ISP’s server has outdated software that does not capture encrypted traffic that passes through the VPN tunnel.

3. Can all gaming devices be protected with a VPN?

3. Can all gaming devices be protected with a VPN?

The VPN client can be installed on computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones, but game consoles cannot be directly protected with a VPN. However, this problem has a very simple solution: install a VPN on your home router, and all devices connected to the router, including the game console, will be protected by the VPN. Another solution is to connect the game console to your computer using an Ethernet cable and in the settings allow it to access the Internet.

4. How legal is it to use a VPN in computer games?

4. How legal is it to use a VPN in computer games?

If there are no restrictions on the use of VPNs in general in your country, then you can freely use this technology in computer games as well without fear of any sanctions from the authorities. However, remember that some gaming platforms categorically prohibit their customers from using VPN, and gamers who are seen in violation are issued a permanent ban.

5. Will a VPN protect against all threats the modern Internet poses, including viruses and Trojan horses?

5. Will a VPN protect against all threats the modern Internet poses, including viruses and Trojan horses?

No, VPNs only protect you against surveillance and hacker attacks. If a virus got into your computer in any way, then a VPN won’t be of any help to you. Therefore, regularly scan your system with a good antivirus and follow simple precautions: get games only from the official websites of developers, do not download or install pirated copies of games and programs, in any case, always antivirus-scan all programs and games you got from questionable sources before installing them, run then in a sandbox when you aren’t sure.

Author: Nicolas Cuts

Product Managers at SwitcherryVPN. Have 5 years background in management and marketing. I never stop learning!

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