I’m both a VPN designer and an avid gamer. In fact, as I’m writing this article I’m also cursing my own lack of self-restraint while drinking my third cup of coffee of the day. Last night’s Apex Legends session cut a bit too much into my sleep.
I’ve come across a few strange myths about VPN’s and gaming on Discord. So I am here to set the record straight.
1. Effect of VPN on ping
This is the big one. Ping, or latency, is the number in milliseconds measuring the time between you making an action on your computer and the VPN server registering it. It is the single most important factor for an online gamer’s experience, if you don’t count teenagers screaming insults into a microphone.
The common belief is that VPN will always slow down your connection, and that often is the case. If you are using a proper VPN (like FREEDOME), you are unlikely to see any drop in ping. What many people find most surprising though is that a VPN can actually IMPROVE your ping.
The reason for this has to do with how your internet traffic is routed. Let’s assume you are in The UK and connect to a Swedish game server with your normal internet connection. Your connection might take a route like this: UK -> Netherlands, Norway -> Sweden. However, if you use a Swedish VPN server, your connection would go straight on a private highway to Sweden. If you are having latency or packet loss, try turning your VPN on and see what happens.
2. VPN lets you unlock some games early
Anyone who follows the AAA gaming industry, knows that games rarely have one single release date. They can be released at different times based on pre-order, platform, or the region the play is located in. This can seem unfair for a number of reasons. In the case of multiplayer games, gamers who get access to games a week before the others get more time to practice. In the case of single player games, it can just feel annoying that people in other countries are already playing a game you have been waiting to get your hands on for ages.
If you’re itching to be among the first to get your hands on a game, try changing the country of your VPN server before making your purchase. You might have to create a whole new account. Whether it’s worth it or not is up to you.
Personal note: Sometimes eagerness to play a game early can backfire. When Mass Effect: Andromeda came out, I fell on the hype train and could not wait the extra two days when the game was released in Europe. I used an American server to make the purchase and played the game for about 10 hours, until my transaction was declined after the effect and my save was wiped. EA customer service was unwilling to help. The game thankfully turned out to be quite underwhelming, so this unwanted refund ended up playing to my hand.
3. A VPN prevents DDoS attacks
One of the main benefits of a VPN is that it forms a sort of shield between you and the internet. This carries many benefits, including special ones for gamers. Streamers and those who host game servers often find themselves as the target of misplaced anger, and subsequently DDoS attacks. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) involves many computers sending repeated requests to a specific computer’s IP address, essentially clogging up its capacity for internet traffic. Some people who are killed by streamers or kicked out of a server for cheating might resort to this, earning a special place in hell in the process.
The reason why many streamers and server hosts use a VPN is that it hides the real address of your computer, making it impossible to slow down their traffic with this method. Whether you are protecting yourself against salty people who need to learn how to cope with losing, intrusive advertisers or a snoopy internet service provider, a VPN is your ticket to digital freedom.
When it comes to using VPN while gaming, the best advice I can give you is this: There probably won’t be a need to turn it off, and it might even help your ping. I can personally say that I have not once felt the need to turn FREEDOME VPN off while gaming, and my ping is at a consistent 20-40, with or without.
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