Using a VPN while playing games online is one of the best ways to prevent DDoS attacks and other disruptions. But with so many VPN companies out there, what are the best VPNs for gaming? Here’s a guide.
Why Use a VPN for Gaming?
If you use a VPN to circumvent censorship or provide privacy, it may not be obvious why you would also want one when gaming. Gaming servers are usually not censored and there is not much private information someone could steal from you by eavesdropping on your gaming traffic.
Still, if you do a lot of online gaming — especially at a very competitive level — you know that DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks can be a big problem. DDoS is a way to overload a server or connection in order to disrupt online games. Unfortunately, some online gamers resort to this tactic as a way to force their opponents’ connections to crash.
Some VPN services are designed to mitigate DDoS attacks. They provide a solution to this problem.
Beyond DDoS, a VPN can also be useful if the games you want to play are blocked in your location. That is not a widespread problem, but China, among other countries, has tried to censor some games. It sometimes also happen that a game that has been released in certain countries is not yet available where you live. VPNs provide a route around both of these obstacles.
Lastly, although it is unlikely that a game would leak a great deal of private information about you, there is a risk that some could be transmitted. It’s also possible for someone to try to monitor your connection in order to link your online gaming identity to your real identity. Tunneling all of your gaming traffic through a VPN will prevent people from reading it.
Gaming VPN Considerations
If you want to use a VPN for gaming, there are three main VPN features to consider:
- Anti-DDoS features. As noted above, if you’re a gamer you likely want a VPN that is designed to stop DDoS attacks.
- Low lag. Lag refers to the delay that can occur between performing an action in a game and having it actually happen. Lag occurs due to high network latency, which means information takes a long time to travel between your computer and the gaming server. Since the VPN is a middleman between your computer and the gaming server, a VPN with low latency is important.
- High bandwidth. Some games transmit a lot of data. In order to avoid a gaming delay due to data transfer backup, you need a VPN that offers fast upload and download speeds. (This is different from latency; even a VPN that has low latency and therefore minimal lag could still have poor bandwidth.)
The Best VPNs for Gaming
In our experience, these are the best VPNs for gaming:
- ExpressVPN. This company is proactive about DDoS attacks. It also offers good bandwidth, low latency and a large network of servers. All of these features make it good for gaming. Pricing is on the higher end, though, starting at $8.33/month.
- BolehVPN. Another VPN that caters to the gaming crowd, among other markets. In particular, BolehVPN offers Malaysia-based game hosting, which is priced on an individualized basis (you have to ask for a quote). For gaming that doesn’t require a dedicated gaming server, BolehVPN is also fine, although not necessarily better than a typical VPN service with good bandwidth. The company doesn’t make DDoS mitigation a major focus.