Like with movies and other online content, access to video games may be restricted to certain regions in the world. For example, there are games like Lost Ark that are currently unavailable in the Philippines but are playable in other countries. For that reason, many gamers turn to VPNs.
VPN is the key
We’ve explained what VPNs are for, so check out our guide. On top of encrypting your data and hiding your real IP address, VPNs let you bypass geo-restrictions to play region-locked video games. By allowing you to choose a server among hundreds that are spread across the globe, a good VPN helps you reroute your traffic and spoof your location.
With how VPNs work, you can play games that haven’t launched in the Philippines but are already available elsewhere. Similarly, you can also participate in beta releases that are exclusive to specific countries.
Content in games may also vary per region due to censorship and other reasons. Worse, video games can be outright banned due to their controversial, graphical, or obscene content that goes against the ideologies of governments around the world. Once again, a VPN can get you past these censorships and bans.
Resolve routing and latency issues
VPNs can also help you connect to specific game servers if the game doesn’t explicitly let you choose. For example, when I play Overwatch, I normally am connected to servers located in Korea or Japan. But via VPN I can put myself on a Singaporean server in which I enjoy a more serviceable latency or ping response time.
Gaming-centric VPNs promise optimized experience
Not all VPNs are geared toward gaming, as some only offer features meant for geo-spoofing and privacy. Features and optimizations for gaming that some VPNs offer include DDoS protection, system performance tuning, and multi-WAN support.
In no particular order, check out the VPN services and features offered by ExitLag, ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and SurfShark. Many savvy gamers also vouch for WTFast and Mudfish. As there are several choices for VPNs, make sure that whichever you pick is trustworthy and does not put your data at risk.
Do note that your mileage may vary. Despite the promise of better and faster connection, VPNs may do the opposite especially if your regular Internet connection is already fast. It’s best to sign up for a trial period first and check for improvements. Free VPNs are also available, but they come with limitations.
A foreign shipping/billing address may be enough
Some games are only region-locked when it comes to purchasing and activation. Once you get past those, you’ll be able to play these games even without the use of IP proxying. It’s possible to circumvent these restrictions by creating an account with a valid billing address in the country where the game is available.
Try other online stores
If, for example, a video game is not available for purchase or play on Steam due to geo-restrictions, see the game’s listing on Epic Games or other alternative stores. There have been instances where games are region-locked in one platform but not in another.
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For gaming consoles, it’s about the selected location and/or language
Regional lockouts used to be heavily enforced by console makers such as Nintendo and Sony, but they aren’t as prevalent in today’s modern gaming consoles. Video games and other content offered on digital stores (Nintendo eShop, Microsoft Store, and PlayStation Store) may vary between countries, but it’s fairly easy to access geo-locked content.
For Microsoft Xbox One X and Series X|S, all you need to do is select the correct language and location in the Microsoft Store settings on the console. Press the Xbox button on the controller and go to Profile & System > Settings > System > Language & Location. Pick the language and location of the country of the Microsoft Store you want to browse. Restart your console.
For Nintendo Switch, you’ll need to create multiple accounts to access multiple storefronts. First, create a Nintendo account at accounts.nintendo.com/register. Make sure you chose the country of your desired eShop. On your Switch console, create a new user profile with the account you created. Launch the eShop using that user profile.
The process is similar to Switch for PlayStation 4 and 5. You’ll need to create a new account and select the correct country for every PlayStation Store that you want to access.
The last hurdle on consoles is the payment information. If you don’t have a credit card that’s accepted internationally, you’ll need to look for payment methods (such as gift cards) supported in other countries. After purchase, the games should be downloadable and playable without issue using any account, although paid DLCs and online functionality may only work on region-specific accounts.
VPN on consoles
VPNs can be used on consoles too! Basically, you’ll need a router and configure it to connect to the Internet through your VPN, then connect your console to the router’s local network. The steps for configuration may vary among different VPNs and routers, so you’ll need to look up a guide that’s specific to your home router and chosen VPN service.
Deal with the consequences
For one reason or another, video game developers and publishers intentionally add geo-restrictions to their video games. To enforce it, these companies warn that users who bypass these restrictions using VPNs may be subjected to severe punishments, which include permanent bans and termination of their accounts. If you’re considering the use of VPNs, make sure you’re not jeopardizing your access to your games and accounts.