Google “gaming VPN” and you’ll find dozens of articles talking about how you need to use a VPN while playing online games nowadays. You’ll even see Redditors mention VPNs on gaming subreddits. Safe to say – these tools have become pretty popular.
But is it actually a good idea to use a gaming VPN? Aren’t there any risks you need to be aware of?
Well, there are a few issues. We’ll tell you about them in this article. But we’ll also cover some really good reasons to use a gaming VPN.
The Risks of Gaming with a VPN
After reading multiple articles on this topic and interviewing tons of gamers, we managed to find three risks:
1. Some Games Might Ban You
Not all games or gaming platforms are VPN-friendly. Some of them actually say in their TOS (Terms of Service) that you can’t use a VPN or a proxy with their service. If you do, you risk getting banned.
Steam does this, for example. They don’t mention VPNs specifically, but they make it clear that “IP proxying” (it basically means hiding your IP) is against the rules. And, well, that’s exactly what VPNs do.
Pokémon GO also had similar rules. The parent company’s TOS clearly said that “falsifying your location” (hiding your IP) is considered cheating and is a bannable offense.
2. Your Speeds Will Be Slower
VPNs slow down online speeds because they encrypt traffic. That makes data packets heavier, so it takes longer to transport them between your device and the VPN server.
Also, if you’re using a VPN server that’s too far away, it will take more time for your traffic to travel between your device and the VPN.
Now, VPN slowdowns aren’t extremely noticeable. When we game with VPNs, we barely notice a difference – even while using far-away servers. However, that’s because we use WireGuard – the fastest VPN protocol there is.
If you use OpenVPN (a protocol many VPNs use by default), you’ll get slower speeds.
What do “slow speeds” mean exactly? That you’ll basically deal with long load times, disconnects, and high ping and lag.
3. Free VPNs Will Ruin the Experience
Free VPNs are very enticing. Most people think about using them since they consider many VPNs to be overpriced.
But here’s the problem – a free VPN will offer very slow speeds because its servers are overcrowded. Also, free VPNs enforce bandwidth caps. The range can vary from 500 MB to 2 GB per month. For reference, a match of Fortnite will consume around 50-75 MB per hour. So you’d barely get to play a few hours!
Oh, and here are another issue – free VPNs expose you to ads and malware (especially the free ones you find on the app store). Free VPNs might also log your data and sell it to advertisers.
Just stick with paid VPNs. Their long-term plans are actually very affordable and most of them have great money-back guarantees.
Why You Might Want to Use a Gaming VPN
Obviously, you should only use one if it doesn’t go against your game’s TOS (so that you don’t get in trouble). If there are no rules against using VPNs, here are the perks you can enjoy:
Protect Yourself from DoS/DDoS Attacks
DoS/DDoS attacks are a huge problem in gaming. They’re cyber attacks that force players offline by flooding their network with tons of traffic. This is a very common occurrence when dealing with sore losers – they just DoS/DDoS you to get revenge.
To do that, they use your IP address (it helps them locate and target your network). Well, a VPN hides your IP, so wannabe hackers can’t force you offline.
Won’t they just DoS/DDoS the VPN servers?
Sure, they can try, but it’ll mostly be a waste of time. VPN servers are equipped with anti-DDoS protection, so hackers can’t compromise them.
Protect Yourself from Swatting
Swatting is the act of calling emergency law enforcement services to someone’s home by calling in fake bomb threats (or other similar emergencies). The idea is to troll people, but these things often get out of hand. Gamers who were targeted with Swatting have died, and the “pranksters” who made those calls were jailed.
A VPN protects you from Swatting by hiding your IP address. Without it, trolls can’t find out the info they need to make an emergency call – what city you live in and what your ZIP code is (they can later try to use that data to find your location).
Avoid Creepy Stalkers
Your IP address tells the world a lot about you. Anyone who has your IP can use it to find out:
- What country you live in.
- What city you’re in.
- Who your ISP is.
- What ZIP code you have.
With that information, stalkers can try to learn more about you. We’re not saying they’ll 100% find your street, but they could learn personal info about you by targeting your ISP with phishing attacks.
Well, VPNs stop anyone from seeing your real IP, so they can’t use it to learn personal things about you. They’ll only see the VPN’s IP, and the best they can learn with it is what data center your VPN provider uses.
Stop Bandwidth Throttling
Bandwidth throttling is when your ISP says enough is enough and slows your online speeds because you use too much data. We often experienced this problem during long gaming sessions on weekends.
VPNs can stop ISPs from doing that by encrypting your traffic. That basically means your traffic becomes unreadable. So, your ISP can’t see which online services you’re using (they won’t know you’re playing Fortnite, for example). That way, they won’t have any way to throttle your bandwidth.
Want to Learn More about Gaming with VPNs?
To read more about gaming with a VPN, click here. GamerGirl is a ProPrivacy blog that focuses on gaming, VPNs, and cybersecurity. The article we just linked talks about what VPNs are, how they help the game, and answers some relevant FAQs.
What’s more, GamerGirl has tons of other useful articles that cover gaming and VPNs.
Do You Use Gaming VPNs?
Are they too risky in your opinion or are the benefits worth it? How often do you use VPNs while gaming? And which VPNs do you like the most?
We’re looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this matter, so please leave a comment.