There are many reasons to use a VPN while gaming.
Whether it’s to protect yourself from attacks, remain anonymous when connecting to P2P games, or access games that are banned in your country, a VPN is a must-have for any gamer.
There are a lot of VPNs out there, though. Most of them don’t have the infrastructure or the support to allow you to do what you want when gaming.
Free VPNs lack servers worldwide and can’t meet the lightning-quick speeds you need to play games without issue.
If you’re looking for a VPN for gaming, we’re here to help. We’ve tested several VPNs with several games and have compiled a list of what we think are the best VPNs for gaming.
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What are the criteria for a good gaming VPN?
In order to be a good VPN for gaming, there are a few criteria that the VPN has to meet.
First, it needs to be fast. Online gaming requires a fast internet connection. I’m sure you’ve played an online game with terrible ping and latency issues. The actions you perform are delayed, and the playing experience isn’t great.
When you use a VPN, your internet connection is no longer being sent directly to the game servers. It’s being bypassed through a separate server hosted by the VPN before reaching the game server. This is to ensure your internet connection is anonymous.
The problem here is this can cause delays and internet speed slowdowns. Not ideal for gaming. To get around these problems, you need to use a VPN that uses a fast protocol to ensure you don’t come across any lag issues.
Second, the VPN needs to be secure. If you want your internet connection to be anonymous and safe when gaming, you need a secure VPN.
Most VPNs claim they’re secure; however, this isn’t always the case. Some VPNs store your data and keep a log of your internet use. This is the complete opposite of an anonymous internet connection and defeats the purpose of using a VPN for gaming in the first place.
Lastly, you want a VPN with servers all over the world.
When gaming online, it pays to join servers geographically close to your physical location. For example, if you’re gaming in the US, you want to play on US-based servers to ensure your ping stays low.
If you use a VPN for gaming and it doesn’t have servers in your country or countries nearby, you will encounter severe latency issues.
To ensure this doesn’t happen, make sure you use a VPN that has servers worldwide.
I’ve been gaming with a VPN for a while, and I got the best results from ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.49/month). Both of these VPNs meet these three criteria, they’re fast, secure and have servers all over the world.
Why use a VPN for gaming?
There are many reasons to use a VPN for gaming:
- Security: Using a VPN gives you a secure, anonymous internet connection. This makes it very difficult for hackers and swatters to identify your location or hack your system. If you’re playing P2P (peer-to-peer) games in which you have to connect directly to other players’ computers, you may be at risk when gaming. A VPN will secure your connection, so you don’t have to worry about security breaches.
- Change region: If you live in a country with strict gaming laws that bans games, a VPN can allow you to play those games in your country. A perfect example of this is Diablo Immortal being banned in the Netherlands. Dutch people wanting to play Diablo Immortal in their country couldn’t because the government banned the game. Using a VPN, you can bypass these bans by changing your region. This will allow you to play games that aren’t available in your country.
- Get around ISP throttling: Sometimes, when gaming, your internet service provider may throttle your internet speed. ISPs do this because network bandwidth is a finite resource. At peak times, when everyone’s online, the ISP needs to throttle or “shape” the network to allow everyone access to fast speeds. Because gaming is network intensive, usually, gamers are the ones who get throttled. This makes playing games delayed and unresponsive. A VPN will allow you to get around this issue.
- Stabilise connection: If you have an unstable connection to gaming servers, using a VPN can stabilise the connection.
Will a VPN reduce ping?
This is a tricky question to answer as a VPN will reduce ping in some instances but won’t make a difference in others.
If you have a slow connection, it could be because your connection isn’t taking the fastest route to the game servers. This will increase your ping and cause stuttering issues when gaming.
A fast VPN like ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.49/month) will allow you to connect to the game’s server via a faster route. Your data packets will get to the game servers quicker, meaning the response will reach your device faster. This will reduce your ping.
A VPN will not reduce your ping if your internet connection is already using the fastest route to reach the game servers. However, it could stabilise your connection and reduce lag spikes.
How does a VPN work?
When you use a VPN, your internet connection is made anonymous. VPNs do this by encrypting all your online data into an unreadable code. This means online services cannot track your connection to determine where you’re located or gather any information you may have on your system.
Once your data is encrypted, it’s then rerouted through a server hosted by the VPN. Once it reaches this server, the encrypted data is decrypted and sent to a local internet service provider in a country of your choosing. This allows you to make it look like you’re connecting to the internet from within that country.
For example, if you are trying to play a game that’s banned in your country, all you have to do is download ExpressVPN ($6.67/month) or NordVPN ($3.49/month) connect to a server in a country where the game isn’t banned, and you’ll be able to play the game in your country.
How to use a VPN on PlayStation and Xbox?
If you’re gaming on a console and you want to secure your connection, change region, or get around ISP throttling with a VPN. Unfortunately, there isn’t a VPN available on PlayStation and Xbox.
There is a simple way to get a VPN for your console, though. All you need to do is install a VPN on a router, connect your console to that router, and the process will work. You can read our guide on the best way to install a VPN on a router here.
The benefit of having a VPN on a router is massive. You can connect any device to the router, i.e. your phone, PC, laptop, TV or gaming console and they’ll all utilise the VPN.
The best VPNs for gaming
The fastest and MOST reliable VPN of 2022Number of servers: 3,000+ | Speed: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 160 in 94 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes ExpressVPN is still the best VPN. And importantly, it ALWAYS has servers that are open with major streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video etc. ExpressVPN is usually very good at playing Cat and Mouse with online streaming sites (apart from BBC iPlayer). Meaning, whenever one of its servers is blacklisted it creates a new one – giving its users a constant stream of servers that aren’t blocked. Needless to say, this is a valuable attribute if you’re looking for a VPN to unblock streaming sites. Its app is easy-to-use and free to download on pretty much any device you can think of. Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, FireStick, Android TV, Roku, PS4, Xbox, Linux, even Apple TV (with a workaround). It’s got it all covered. The app is another main reason this VPN is so good at unblocking TV streaming sites (that claim they block VPNs) is that its software takes a pragmatic approach to user management. While other VPNs tempt customers by promising them access to hundreds/thousands of servers in multiple countries, ExpressVPN does things differently. With ExpressVPN you only have a handful of server locations to choose from. Once you select your location the app takes care of the rest. Assigning you to the fastest available server that’s not oversubscribed. This simple technique is so important, as it keeps ExpressVPN’s servers operating at lightning-fast speeds and prevent its IPs from getting blacklisted for “abnormal” usage in the first place.
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A very quick and trustworthy VPNNumber of servers: 5,000+ | Speeds: >80% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 62 countries | Devices supported: 6 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes NordVPN is the most widely-used VPN in the world. And its easy to see why. It’s a polished app that delivers fast connections (more on this later) to a massive network of VPN servers. It’s the most reliable at unblocking popular streaming services too – US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, BBC iPlayer, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. This is because NordVPN hired full-time technical team (that’s responsible for monitoring its servers connections with popular TV streaming services) and has been aggressively investing in its network of IP addresses in key locations. Another interesting thing to note is that NordVPN is an industry leader in its development of Nordlynx technology. Nordlynx is built using the WireGuard, a new VPN tunnelling protocol designed to outperform current standards (OpenVPN and IPSec). The benefits, according to NordVPN, are dramatically faster transfer speeds while connected to a VPN. My tests – New Zealand to London – confirm that Nordlynx is currently the fastest VPN on the market. However, the difference isn’t dramatic, a few Mbps is all.
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The great low-cost VPN optionNumber of servers: 1,000+ | Speed: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 275 in 100 countries | Devices supported: 5 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes If you’re looking for an excellent VPN, with an even better price tag, Ivacy ($1.16/month) is a great option. This VPN has all the features you need to stream BBC iPlayer, in HD, from any country in the world. I’ve been testing the app recently on Mac, PC, Android, iOS and FireStick and the results have been impressive – unlocking BBC iPlayer, US Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video, etc. with ease. The Ivacy app is a little different in regards to its UX (user experience). Instead of just selecting a UK server, you need to select the specific BBC iPlayer server. Don’t worry, this isn’t a bad thing – by connecting to a dedicated BBC iPlayer server, it simply means that you’re connecting to an IP address that Ivacy knows works with BBC iPlayer. For an extra $1.99/month (£1.74) you can add-on a dedicated IP. This will buy you sole access to an IP address in a country of your choice, meaning you won’t have to share your IP (and speeds) with any other use. I don’t recommend this though, using the regular Ivacy servers is enough 95 per cent of the time.
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5. CyberGhostNumber of servers: 6,000+ | Speeds: >65% | Bandwidth: Unlimited | IP locations: 200 in 90 countries | Devices supported: 7 | Live chat: Yes | 30-day money-back guarantee: Yes CyberGhost is one of the more established VPNs on the market. It has a well-established, and well-tested global network of servers that perform well. From my tests over the past several months, CyberGhost has no trouble at unblocking major streaming services – US Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Max etc. This VPN performed well at maintaining download speeds, well above 65 per cent of my regular (non VPN) ISP speed. That said, there’s nothing really unique about the service. Which forces you to look at its price-point. And there’s nothing special here. Its short-term $12.99/month price tag puts is well above the industry average of $10.10/month. Similarly, its long-term $2.75/month for 3 years deal isn’t much of a “deal” either. Oddly, CyberGhost’s most unique feature is its a 1-day, no obligations, free trial. This is an appealing offer to customers who are new to VPNs. However, it’s important to remember that most reputable VPNs will offer customers a 30-day money-back guarantee, so try not to be too seduced by the offer.
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