So VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, aren't normally mentioned much with console gaming – in fact, you might not know what a VPN is at all, which we’ll explain – but they can offer some surprising benefits. These include accessing console stores outside of your country (e.g. the EU PS Store from the US), early beta access, browsing privacy and increased online gaming speeds. Better yet, VPNs aren’t as time-consuming to set up as you might think, and cost as little as $6 a month. We outline the benefits of setting up a VPN on your PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch below, how to set it up and where to find the best deals.
Why do I need a VPN?
Virtual private networks (VPNs) create secure connections so you can access other networks privately. Basically, your VPN provider will replace your IP address which will make it appear as though you’re accessing the Internet from somewhere else. One of the main uses is to maintain your privacy, so you can browse the Internet anonymously. It all depends on how you feel about your data being gathered and sold by your ISP and other companies. VPNs are definitely worth a look if you’re annoyed by targeted ads appearing after you’ve searched for something online. They’re generally designed for PC use, however there are also benefits to console users.
Various countries may have differing online stores when it comes to console gaming. If you’re in the UK and want to access the US store on your PlayStation, for example, you’re going to need to trick the console into thinking you’re in the right location to be able to do so. Perhaps you want to access the US version of PS Now from somewhere else in the world where the library is different. You’re going to have to jump through a few hoops, but it’s possible with a VPN.
The same is true when it comes to the apps on your console. Are you in the United States and want to access a Netflix show that’s only available in the United Kingdom? There are all sorts of geo restrictions across Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and other services, and by using a VPN you can unlock way more for your consuming pleasure. Geo restrictions apply to games too. If you’re going on holiday and taking your console with you, you might find specific games are banned in certain countries. A handy VPN will get around these barriers, allowing you to play the games you paid for from anywhere in the world.
VPNs can help with your security too. It’s pretty unlikely to ever happen to the average gamer, but using a VPN can stop attackers gaining access to your connection and targeting you with the likes of denial of service attacks.
Where do I get a VPN from?
There are a whole range of VPN providers out there, and there’s a surprising amount of variety. Below, we’ll highlight some of the best deals around, and the pros of each pick. There are free versions of some VPNs available, however you’ll get the best features and performance if you’re willing to pay a fee. Once you’ve bought your prefered choice, you’ll need to follow a few simple steps to get it set up.
How to set up a VPN on your console
Virtual private networks are designed for use on computers though, so you’re going to have to take a few extra steps to get them working on your console.
The simplest way is to have the VPN set up on your computer or laptop, and then have your console use that connection. Just have your console wired up to your PC using an ethernet cable. Then, if you have a VPN installed on your PC, you should be able to access its properties and open up the ability to allow other devices on your network to access the Internet using your PC’s connection.
Alternatively, you can set up your VPN on your Wi-Fi router at home. All routers are different, but most VPN providers will give you a guide on how to do this. Once that’s done, you’ll have to go into your console settings and make sure it’s connecting to your router.
The best VPN deals for console gaming
Best overall VPN
With VyprVPN, you get either three or five simultaneous connections, based on how much you pay, and a wealth of other features. Of particular interest is the company’s Chameleon protocol, which will help you further by getting round a lot of VPN blocking techniques. In performance testing, VyprVPN does well, with an acceptable increase in latency and decrease in upload speeds, combined with a surprising download speed boost on some servers.
Best VPN for ease of use
Best balance between performance and simplicity
SaferVPN features over 400 servers across 30 countries, and supports protocols including IKEv2, OpenVPN, L2TP, and PPTP. There’s also a 24 hour trial if you want to try before you buy. Performance is strong when using SaferVPN, and even stays at reasonable levels over large distances. A small downside is that you can’t choose which specific server to connect to within each country. Plus, if you’re going to be using this VPN beyond console use, it may be worth noting that torrents aren’t supported at all.
Best VPN for a variety of locations
Although ExpressVPN is a little pricier than the other VPNs on this list, but the amount of features and services make up for it. A huge 94 countries are included in its coverage, and the client for your computer is nice and easy to use. Your connection generally stays strong while using it, and the company keeps your data safe from third parties. If you’re worried about the price, there’s a money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied within 30 days of your purchase.