VPN for Gaming - To use or not to use?

vpn for gaming to use or not to use

The whole Internet has changed significantly in the last 10 years. Still, no that much for online games. Indeed, there’s a greater number of online games in 2019, resulting in a greater mass of people playing. But what about online games security and using a VPN for gaming?


What is a VPN?

A VPN is that extra layer that comes between you and the whole world, in terms of the Internet.

It gives you the possibility of securing your online connection. It keeps your data private, even if you’re using a public WiFi for example. Not even the ISP (Internet Service Provider) will be able to figure out what you’re doing online.

This is a simple way of describing how a VPN works. In case you want to fully understand the process, head over to the article that explains “How does a VPN work?”


Gaming Past vs Present

I remember my high school friends, mostly boys, that had weekly meet-ups for playing WOW (World of Warcraft); this was the most popular online games from 2009. Others were playing Counter-Strike. Either way, I didn’t hear any of those teenage boys talking about wanting to stay anonymous while playing, get a shield for a DDoS attack or improve the server connection.

These days this playing world has increased its size. I look at my brother who’s been playing online for a couple of years (10th and 11th grade aka 16 and 17 years old). His interest has definitely shifted to the desire of playing games with his friends. I’m not talking about the much older days when friends would come over and play on the computer by the turn.

The online gaming world has been massively promoted through YouTube videos and Live Streams. Teenagers, young adults, and even adults are recording their game play, then posting it online; or they are holding a live stream and showing other fans of that particular game how they play.

People say that the online world has made us choose to stay on the phone, on the laptop in detriment of meeting with our friends face-to-face. I think that we choose to talk/play and meet in the online world because it’s easier; this is where all of our friends are. How could you meet with all of the persons you know?

Getting back to our subject of using or not using a VPN for gaming, I think that while in the past there were not many ideas of using one (partly because it wasn’t that popular, either), right now many gamers are trying to find out if they should use one. This is because the online gaming world is much more popular, and some desires and necessities have changed.


Reasons to use a VPN for gaming

With all the problems regarding online security and anonymity, using a VPN might be the solution even for you, the common person. On the other side, when it comes to using a VPN for gaming has been on gamers mind, too. The advantages are pretty similar to those using a VPN in general.

Stay anonymous (safe data and gaming traffic)

Online anonymity is becoming more and more popular and desired. When you know that you have a solution to be anonymous on the Internet, you immediately start thinking of taking that opportunity.

It doesn’t mean that you’re a hacker or something similar. As stated in this article LINK everyone can benefit from using a VPN.

This “keeping your data anonymous” has reached the online games world, too. There are billions of gamers out there that simply want to keep their gaming traffic private. Some players win, some players lose. But those who lose might not know how to react, and they could make everything possible to track you down through your IP and get to you in real life.

Using a VPN for gaming you can protect yourself from these people who might want to do you harm not only in the online world but also in the real one. It is a case that doesn’t happen that often. Still, as there are so many gamers out there, you won’t know who you’ll run into. Better safe than sorry, right?

Besides this, as it can happen with any other online situations besides gaming, using a public WiFi might expose your logs to whoever has access to that wireless network. You’ll never know who can be stalking you and your whole online gaming presence, that is why you should use a VPN while gaming (and not only then).

Not to mention that some games give you the possibility to buy stuff right in the game. That means you’re giving away credit card data. Better add a protection layer!

Get a shield for a DDoS attack

DDoS stands for Distributed Denial-of-service. This form of online attack is a way to disrupt normal traffic with a flood of Internet traffic. It basically overwhelms the victim (a server and its surrounding infrastructure) which fails.

There are three types of DDoS attacks:

Traffic - Traffic flooding attacks send a huge volume of TCP, UDP and ICPM packets to the target. Legitimate requests get lost and these attacks may be accompanied by malware exploitation.

Bandwidth - his DDoS attack overloads the target with massive amounts of junk data. This results in a loss of network bandwidth and equipment resources and can lead to a complete denial of service

Application - Application-layer data messages can deplete resources in the application layer, leaving the target's system services unavailable.

Source: https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/D/DDoSattack.html_

I mentioned above that some gamers don’t know how to cooperate with loosing. Some of them might want to track you down, some might choose to pull a DDoS attack on you. Of course, supposing they have the knowledge and resources to do this.

This is another rare case, but after all, using a VPN for gaming is similar to having insurance: you’re protecting yourself from those rare situations;.

The moment you stop using a VPN for gaming something bad happens. Murphy’s Law can act everywhere.

A VPN will save you from a possible DDoS attack because of the way it works: it basically assigns you a different IP. The attacker is not aware of this, therefore his scheme will be directed to that different IP. You can quickly change the server, and get another IP, making the attack useless.

Play games that are not available in your area

Moving on to some happier situations. You know that there are websites and applications that may not be available everywhere. It’s the same case with games.

If you live in an area where a particular game is not available, you can use a VPN. In this way, you’ll be able to connect to a different server, helping you play the desired game.

Improve the server connection

You know that online games work on/with different servers. It’s often the case when your favorite game has a server establish in a far-away country from yours.

The possible advantage of using a VPN for gaming is that the VPN provider uses servers from a big number of countries and areas. In this way, you might be able to connect to a server that’s closer to the game’s server, making your connection faster (at least apparently).

Now some say that this is true, some say it’s not. I’m guessing it might have had a bigger possibility back in the days when my colleagues were playing WOW. But even then, this improvement might have been too little to notice.

It is because the whole connection is closely related to your own type of Internet connection. You ISP subscription is the one that mostly dictates the whole stability. If you have a package that doesn’t offer big speeds then don’t expect to do magic while using a VPN.

Just look at this photo:

connection without a vpn
connection with a vpn - how does vpn work

Source:

Even though after the VPN point the connection is fast, before reaching to a VPN server, it’s still your connection that can be slow. It’s like in math: “-2 + 2 = 0”.

In case you have a strong and fast connection and you’re also using a VPN for gaming, you might have a chance at seeing some improvements in your online game.

Fool an IP ban

I am not the one to encourage behavior that leads to a ban, but sometimes things happen. It might not be your fault that you got an IP ban.

So while you’re trying to talk with the owners of the game, you can use a VPN. It will change your IP, setting you free to play the favorite online game.

Just be sure to not put yourself in a harder situation: if you start to be so proud of your “fooling” action and start shouting out your actions, you might make admins upset. This will lead to bigger issues, and I’m sure you don’t want that.

Use a VPN for gaming, particularly for entering back in a game after an IP ban, with responsibility can caution.

Connect to servers from other areas

Similar to playing games that are not in your area, the whole connecting to different servers can bring you some advantages.

Some online games might have content that is specifically available to a few areas. If you want to at least see that content, using a VPN for gaming can be your most reachable solution.

Just keep in mind that unlocking that content can be done only if you will connect to the same area’s servers. If you go back to your area, that content might not be available anymore. To be honest, this situation it’s like using a ladder to get some towels from the top shelf: as soon as you’ll not have the ladder, you won’t be able to reach the towels and they will stay there forever.

Not to forget about the release dates: some games, just like movies, will have different release dates depending on the area/country. In case you use a VPN, you can get “early-access” to those games.

Play games if you’re on campus

I must admit I’ve never stayed in a campus. This didn’t save me from knowing that there were students who couldn’t play games because the campus had a restriction. I’m not sure how they managed to fool those restrictions or if they knew they could use a VPN for gaming only.

Either way, yes, you can use a VPN to play games on campus. Just be sure to not make your teachers angry. Play the games, but have that big splash of responsibility. Otherwise, you can get into trouble.


Reasons not to use a VPN for Gaming

As in every other situation, there are some negative parts of using a VPN for gaming. I found three of them. Feel free to contact us if you have others in mind.

Money

“Money makes the world go ‘round”. They even make the internet connections go ‘round. Using a VPN for personal life (just surfing the Internet for a couple of hours daily) means that you won’t use that much data. It’s even simpler if you’re using a VPN just for urgencies. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about paying to have all the features of a VPN.

Most VPN providers offer a free version, that’s limited in terms of data usage and other aspects; while the other types of subscriptions offer you more and more.

Here’s the catch: you might want to use a free VPN, but most of the time it won’t work well for gaming. Many free VPNs offer a limited amount of data (going around 200-500mb) which is not helpful at all if you want to play an online game. You’ll probably consume the data in the first 5 minutes of the game; no gamer plays that little.

In order to not be limited in terms of usage, you need to pay some amounts. In case you’re a student that wants to play on campus, this can be a struggle. Of course, every problem has a solution.: you can pay with your colleagues for a full VPN experience; just make sure the providers offer multiple device usage.

Some VPNs might not have stable enough servers

If VPN software has multiple servers, then you can be assured that even if the connection from one drops, you can reconnect to another one in no-time.

The problem arises when the VPN software that you’re using doesn’t have that many servers. As the “luck” can happen, you might need that specific area to play a game; that area that the VPN software doesn’t have.

Another issue comes with server stability. The VPN software might have multiple servers, but their connection might be low. This will most likely ruin your online gaming experience, as the server might drop when you least expect or want.

Your home Internet connection

As I mentioned above, your own Internet connection is truly important if you want to use a VPN for gaming.

Some say that using a VPN, for this reason, might actually slow down your connection. In case you already have a not-so-powerful Internet connection at home, then the whole experience goes to trash.

The better your home connection is, the easier it will be. There are areas in this world where the Internet connection is light-speed, but in most of them, it’s just...speed.

I’ve seen this while traveling to various countries, and it’s really a discomfort. Especially when you’ve been accustomed to high Internet speeds.

Make sure to test your Internet connection speed before you start using a VPN for gaming.


Bonus: Can you get banned if you use a VPN for gaming?

In most of the people’s eyes, using a VPN means that you’re up to no good. That’s no longer true, as you can simply want to protect your data while you’re using an Internet connection that’s public.

Luckily, game developers are more open-minded. Still, you should inform yourself whether the game you want to play accepts VPN usage or not. Some, like Fortnite, don’t allow you to use a VPN. On the other side, LoL (League of Legends) doesn’t care if you use one.

Here are some of the popular online games at this time:

WoW - they don’t forbid you to use a VPN, but they don’t recommend it either;

Overwatch - this game comes also from Blizzard (just like WoW), so it mostly works abiding the same Terms of Use. Still, they can be a little more permissive than with WoW;

Fortnite - owners can and will ban you if you use a VPN. They don’t do this every time, but it’s their Terms of Use so they will interpret it as they want;

LoL - you’re free to use a VPN, they will not ban you for this;

PUBG - they actually tweeted that you will not get banned if you’ll use a VPN;

PokemonGo - even though this game might not be as popular as it was a while back, it’s still worth mentioning. There’s a Reddit post that confirms you can’t get banned if you’re using a VPN.

While some online games don’t really care if you’re using a VPN, make sure to not start to do shady stuff. In this case, the ban is close.

For more information regarding these games and VPN usage, here's a more detailed article.


How to choose the best VPN for gaming?

All of these reasons for using a VPN for gaming or not using one leads up to some tips in choosing the best VPN for gaming. There are a number of tips to pick a VPN, but regarding online gaming itself, you should focus on the following three.

Speed

Make sure that the VPN provider offer speeds that will not make your online gaming experience slower. Adding a VPN to the process of constantly requesting and receiving information (the way a VPN works) may slow you down because in the request/receive process there will be another link.

It’s like a chain to which you add another part. Games need ever more data downloading and uploading in order to work, so the VPNs speed must be a proper one.

Encryption types

You need to know that the VPN you chose is safe enough. This means that it should have proper encryptions: at least a 128-bit one.

Good encryption will provide you with better protection against different threats, like that DDoS attack I was talking about.

Server locations

Speed, yes. But don’t forget about the latency that can occur. This layer between you and the world can cause some latency. Be sure that the VPN software offers servers that are in the game’s server area. This will keep the latency at the minimum.

Try to find out where are the games’ servers and compare the list with the VPN servers. It’s the easiest way to make sure you’re choosing the right VPN for gaming.

All in all, if you have the money resources to buy decent VPN software for gaming, then go for it. Just be careful with the rules: don’t use it if the game doesn’t approve. Also, use that VPN for your own good, not to do shady stuff.

In case you’re skilled enough, you can also opt to build your own VPN server. How? With a Raspberry Pi.

I would also mention that if you’re truly a professional player who earns a decent amount of money from participating in gaming competitions, then you should probably use a VPN. Again, with the same remarks: be sure that the game approves this method.

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