Best VPNs for Gaming

GamingOnline gaming is a huge business. From the days of the Bulletin Board System when you dialed into a computer to play games, to the worldwide networks available now, online gaming is now part of our popular culture. As the graphics, processing power, and detail of video games have increased, live game streams and eSports events are putting even more attention on the best gamers. Whether you are a casual player having issues with lag or an elite gamer looking for DDoS protection, a VPN will help with gaming.

RankVPN ServiceRatingServer
1ExpressVPN9.8160Visit ExpressVPN
2NordVPN9.487Visit NordVPN
3Private Internet Access9.295Visit PIA
VPN Guides for the Latest Releases
GTA VOverwatchMonster Hunter World

VPN Guides for Popular Games (alphabetical order)

Agar.ioFreeActionMiniclipApril 28, 2015
ARK$29.99ActionStudio WildcardEarly access
Call of Duty$29.99FPSActivisionNov. 4, 2016
CS:GO$14.99FPSValveAug. 21, 2012
Dark Souls III$59.99ActionFromSoftwareMarch 24, 2016
Doom$59.99FPSBethesda SoftworksMay 13, 2016
Dota 2FreeMMOBAValveJuly 9, 2013
Elder Scrolls Online$29.99MMORPGBethesda SoftworksApril 4, 2014
Final Fantasy XIVSubMMORPGSquare EnixAug. 24, 2013
For Honor$59.99ActionUbisoftFeb. 14, 2017
Gloria Victis$19.99MMORPGBlack Eye GamesEarly access
Grand Theft Auto V$59.99ActionRockstar GamesSept. 17, 2013
Heroes of the StormFreeMMOBABlizzardJune 2, 2015
League of LegendsFreeMMOBARiot GamesOct. 27, 2009
Mario Kart 8$59.99RacingNintendoApril 28, 2017
Minecraft$26.95AdventureMojangOct. 7, 2011
No Man's Sky$59.99AdventureHello GamesAug. 9, 2016
Overwatch$59.99FPSBlizzardMay 24, 2016
PaladinsFreeFPSHi-Rez StudiosSept. 16, 2016
Plants vs Zombies GW2$19.99ShooterPopCap GamesFeb. 23, 2016
Pokken Tournament$49.99FighterBandai NamcoJuly 16, 2015
Rocket League$19.99SportsPsyonixJuly 7, 2015
Super Smash Bros$44.99FighterNintendoNov. 21, 2014
SmiteFreeMMOBAHi-Rez StudiosMarch 25, 2014
Splatoon$59.99ShooterNintendoMay 28, 2015
Star Wars Battlefront$19.99ShooterElectronic ArtsNov. 17, 2015
Street Fighter V$39.99FighterCapcomFeb. 16, 2016
Team Fortress 2FreeFPSValveOct. 10, 2007
Tom Clancy's The Division$49.99ActionUbisoftMarch 8, 2016
Town of SalemFreeStrategyBlankMediaGamesDec. 15, 2014
World of TanksFreeActionWargamingAug. 12, 2010
World of WarcraftSubMMORPGBlizzardNov. 23, 2004

Let’s have a look at some good reasons to use a VPN for gaming. For those in college or another type of school, it should come as no surprise that online games are often blocked on school networks. It can be frustrating to get blocked from playing your favorite games when on campus. By connecting to a VPN, you will be able to get past your school’s firewall restrictions and stop administrators from spying on your traffic. The same is true for those who want to game from work. Many corporate networks block popular online games. A VPN will help you get around those restrictions.

Another good reason to look at using a VPN is DDoS protection. Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are more prevalent as professional gamers are becoming well known. That may not seem like a big deal to some, but to others that depend on video games for their livelihood, DDoS attacks are a big issue. Professional gamers will appreciate the DDoS protection offered by using a reliable VPN service. The VPN will replace your public IP address with an IP from the VPN server location of your choice. You can change IP’s anytime which makes it far more difficult for someone to initiate a DDoS attack.

Speed is another point we will mention. Because VPNs add encryption, gamers assume they will experience a loss in speed. If you are in a location with fast internet and connect to a VPN server close to the location where the game is hosted, it can actually result in better speeds. Why would that be when a VPN has overhead for encryption? It’s all about the route taken between servers. A leading VPN provider like ExpressVPN has peering agreements that can actually shorten the route your traffic takes versus just going through your ISP. When gaming you want to achieve the lowest ping time and the highest throughput to avoid lag and server connection issues.

To use an example, many are familiar with the game, World of Warcraft. If you were to visit a country in a place like the Middle East, since that region is not supported, you could still connect but the internet path your computer takes could be less than desirable. By using a VPN, you could connect to a server in one of the supported regions and your speed may actually increase by making a more direct route to the server. The same may be said for any game. That is why people outside targeted regions have higher latency rates. A VPN will also help you gain full access to games that would otherwise be censored in certain areas of the world.

Some games may only be available in certain regions. That concept is not new, since gaming companies have made games for different markets for a long time. If you are familiar with any of the popular game consoles (PS4, Xbox One, Switch), you quickly become aware that some the best games may not be available in your region. With a VPN, you will have access to those games, just as if you were sitting in that country. A VPN will help you get around any geographical restrictions.

Want access to popular games before they release in your country? A VPN can also help you gain early access to games by switching your IP to another region. Let’s give an example. Fallout 4 was released in November 2015. Gamers around the world were anxious to play as soon as possible. Thousands of gamers were looking for ways to gain early access and found VPN’s to be the solution. They connected to VPN servers in Australia and were able to play Fallout 4 the day before it was released in the United States. You can do the same for many upcoming releases.

How to Use a VPN for Gaming on PC or Mac

I’ll use ExpressVPN for the example of how to use a VPN service for gaming. First, you’ll want to download the VPN client. ExpressVPN offers free client software for Windows, Mac, and Linux. In addition to free apps for iOS and Android.

Now that you’ve had a chance to download and install the software it’s time to connect. Launch the ExpressVPN client and select a server location. We’ll walk you through step by step using their Windows client.

ExpressVPN server locations

  • Since a lot of gamers like to connect to servers in the US, we used that country for our guide. ExpressVPN has a large network of servers located all over the world.
  • We recommend you select OpenVPN (TCP) or (UDP). For streaming videos from sites like YouTube, we use OpenVPN (UDP) because its faster than TCP. They also support PPTP, L2TP, and SSTP. We still recommend OpenVPN UDP for the best mix of speed and privacy protection.
  • Click the big round connect button. After a few seconds, you’ll see the shield around the button turn green. There will also be a message letting you know the “VPN is ON”
  • You now have an IP address in the USA, as far as anyone can tell online. As such, you can reach any site as if you were sitting there. The same would be true if you connected to a server in the UK or anywhere else in the world.

It is just that easy to do. Now that you have an IP address from an ExpressVPN server in the US, you can game, browse the Internet or watch shows as if you were actually there. Connecting to a server in the UK would give you full access to geo-blocked sites there as well.  The same is true for any country.

As you can probably tell by now a good VPN opens access to content around the world. If you live outside the United States the service can help you access popular services like Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora. You still need an account for services like Netflix but the VPN will help you watch US television shows and movies on Netflix as if you were sitting in the United States or any other region you would like to access.

How to Use a VPN for PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo

Once again I’ll use ExpressVPN for the example of how to use a VPN service on your game console. They are my favorite VPN for gaming because ExpressVPN manages a very large network which makes the service a great choice for gamers. You can also view our Top 10 VPN list for more options.

The first step to getting set up with ExpressVPN is normally to download the client software for your system. ExpressVPN offers free client software for Windows, Mac, and Linux.  In addition to free apps for iOS and Android. Obviously, that won’t work for PS4, Xbox One, or Nintendo since the game consoles lack native support for VPN. Luckily, there is still a way to encrypt your gaming traffic and send it through a VPN. The answer is running the VPN through your router. Note: if you don’t need encryption you can use the ExpressVPN MediaStramer (Smart DNS) feature without the need to configure your router. It supports a wide range of gaming consoles.

ExpressVPN router app

Depending on what brand and model of router you use, it might support third party VPN services. If so you can get the necessary information from your VPN provider to set up a connection through your router. Otherwise, I highly recommend FlashRouters. The FlashRouters team takes popular, brand name routers and flashes them with DD-WRT or Tomato firmware. That allows the devices to have far more features than they would with the factory firmware installed. All FlashRouters come pre-configured with support for VPN.

Enjoy all the excitement as you play your favorite online games through a VPN. Please share this post with your friends so they can enjoy gaming from anywhere in the world with a VPN. Follow us @VPNFan for the latest deals and guides.

A VPN service will help protect your online privacy and unblock sites from around the world. We support a free and open Internet.