Published: February 4, 2023
Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, have been gaining popularity in recent years due to the many benefits they provide.
For gamers, VPNs offer a range of advantages that can enhance the gaming experience and protect sensitive information. Especially if it's a high-quality VPN such as NordVPN.
In this article we'll cover the primary benefits of using a VPN for gaming, whether they reduce ping, and to be fair and unbiased as always, when you perhaps shouldn't use a VPN as a gamer.
See Also: The Fastest VPN for Gaming PCs
One of the main benefits of using a VPN for gaming is improved security. Gaming online often requires the exchange of sensitive and personal information, such as login credentials and payment details.
A VPN will encrypt this data, ensuring that it can't be intercepted or stolen by others on the internet. With a VPN, as a gamer you can play with a little extra peace of mind, knowing that there is an extra layer of security between your information and others with potentially nefarious motives.
Another potential benefit of using a VPN for gaming is the ability to bypass geo-restrictions and access games or multiplayer servers that you normally wouldn't be able to play in your region.
Geo-blocking, a type of online censorship, restricts a user's access to specific online content based on their geographical location. This practice is predominantly implemented by content providers as a way of enforcing legal contracts such as copyright agreements based on geographic restrictions.
Geo-blocking is common among media properties, because broadcasting and distribution rights for movies and TV shows can vary from country to country. Some online games are only available in certain regions as well, such as PUBG, Lost Ark, and Blade & Soul to name a few.
Gamers outside of supported regions won't be able to play geoblocked games, but if you connect to a VPN you should be able to, and this bypassing of geo restrictions/blocks using a VPN is legal, assuming the use of VPNs is legal in your country (VPNs are legal in most countries).
Using a VPN for gaming can also improve connection speeds and reduce lag. This is because VPNs can bypass what's called internet throttling, a practice where internet service providers (ISPs) slow down internet speeds for certain activities, such as gaming.
By connecting to a VPN server, gamers can enjoy faster and more stable connections, leading to a better gaming experience.
See Also: The Best Routers for Gaming
In addition to improving connection speeds, using VPN software can also help reduce lag.
VPNs provide a more stable connection by routing gaming traffic through dedicated servers, reducing the number of hops that data must travel (a hop occurs when a packet is passed from one segment of a network to another).
This results in a more direct connection between your computer and the game server you're gaming on, leading to lower latency and a more responsive gaming experience.
Using a VPN for gaming can also protect against DDoS attacks. DDoS attacks are a common problem for gamers, where an attacker floods a gaming server with traffic, causing it to crash and become unavailable.
By using a VPN, gamers can mask their IP address and make it much more difficult for attackers to target them with DDoS attacks.
Yet another benefit of using a VPN when gaming is increased privacy and the peace of mind that may bring.
VPNs can protect gamers' online activities and browsing habits from being monitored or recorded by ISPs or other third parties such as the apps and services you use online.
With a VPN, you as a gamer can enjoy the freedom to play games without worrying about your activities being monitored, recorded, or having your data stolen.
Last but not least, another benefit of using a VPN for gaming is improved access to gaming servers. VPNs can allow gamers to access gaming servers that may not be available in their region, leading to a more diverse gaming experience.
For example, if a certain game groups players into region-based servers and you can't access your usual, preferred server because you're overseas/aboard, using a VPN can allow you access.
In conclusion, VPNs offer a range of benefits for gamers, including improved security, faster connections, reduced lag, protection against DDoS attacks, increased privacy, and improved access to gaming servers.
The burning question is can VPNs really decrease latency in games? The answer is not a straightforward one, as it depends on different variables. Latency, also commonly known as ping, represents the time a packet of data requires to travel from your device to a gaming server and back. A lower ping means a seamless and more responsive online gaming experience.
Using a VPN can potentially lower ping by enhancing connection speeds and providing a stable connection. They can bypass internet throttling, a prevalent tactic where ISPs restrict internet speeds for specific activities such as gaming. By connecting to a VPN server, gamers can experience faster and more stable connections, leading to a decrease in ping. VPNs can also direct gaming traffic through specific servers, reducing the number of stops data must make which can result in reduced latency and a smoother experience.
That said, it's crucial to acknowledge that while VPNs can upgrade connection speeds and stability, they may not necessarily bring down ping in every case. The actual improvement (ie decrease) in ping will depend on various factors including the speed and stability of the VPN connection, the location of the VPN server, and the distance between the VPN server and the gaming server. So, while a VPN can potentially decrease ping when gaming, this isn't always the case and will vary from user to user.
Related: WiFi vs Ethernet for Gaming
Using a VPN can slightly slow down your internet connection because your internet traffic has to go through the VPN server because going to you, however a premium VPN like NordVPN (the one I recommend) is so fast that you won't normally notice any increased latency. In other words, any slowdown in speed is usually going to be imperceptible for the user. For many gamers, all of the other benefits of using a VPN for gaming that we discussed above outweigh this potential downside to using a VPN.
VPNs are good for gaming in general, and most gamers won't have a problem with using one. But to keep this article objective and fair, as I strive to do with every article on the site, there are some situations when you may not want to use a VPN.
Here are some potential downsides to using a VPN for gaming.
Anyway, that wraps my thoughts on using VPNs for gaming - both the potential pros and potential cons. Whether or not you should use a VPN for gaming is totally up to you and your situation. If you're looking for a recommendation, I've used various VPNs before, but I found NordVPN to be the best for gaming and for general use as well. They are a premium VPN that is fast and reliable, so I'd consider checking them out if you want one of the best VPNs. For more about NordVPN and what to look for in a good VPN, see How to Choose the Best VPN for Gaming on PC.
VPN software is quite important in this day and age and will improve the security and privacy of your PC when online. There are also benefits to using VPNs for gaming.
There's lots of VPNs out there but the ones I recommend most to gamers is ExpressVPN (special link that gets you 3 months off. they also offer a free trial here) and NordVPN which are both highly rated gaming VPNs because they're the fastest and most secure.
Indie game dev currently working on my first public release after years of hobby projects, a story-driven VR FPS built with Unreal Engine (to be announced soon here for anyone into VR FPS's). Also likes writing about tech, which also helps fund development of the game.
My favs of all time are OOT, Perfect Dark, MGS1, MGS2, GE007, DKC2, THPS3, HL1, and HL2, with the most recent addition to my list of immortals being the VR masterpiece Alyx. If you want help with a new build feel free to ask on the main PC builds guide. If you found the site extra helpful and wish to support the work I do here, sharing an article with a friend helps a lot and is much appreciated. - Julz