MMO gaming isn’t as safe as people would think. While it’s tons of fun, there are also lots of hidden dangers – cyberbullying, online harassment and abuse, phishing attacks, malware, scams, and more.
If you look up tips for staying safe in MMO games, you’ll often find articles and Reddit threads where people tell you to use a VPN.
But can VPNs really make MMO gaming safer? Or is that just an exaggeration?
We’ll take a close look at this topic in this quick guide. We’ll also tell you what other measures you can take to be safe.
So Can VPNs Make MMO Games Safer?
Yes – there are things a VPN can do to help you stay safe:
VPNs Protect You from DoS/DDoS Attacks
DoS/DDoS attacks involve someone flooding your network with so much traffic that you’re forced offline (you’re disconnected from the game you’re playing). These cyber threats are pretty prevalent in MMO games, with sore losers taking out their frustrations on other players. Trolls might also use these cyber attacks to harass players.
All in all, it’s safe to say DoS/DDoS attacks are a serious threat – especially since any wannabe hacker can rent DDoS attacks (the worst kind) for as little as $10 per hour. Why do we say DDoS attacks are the worst? Because they’re powerful enough to keep you offline for hours on end!
The good news is a VPN can protect you from DoS/DDoS attacks. It does that by hiding your IP address. If hackers can’t see it, they can’t find your network (so they can’t DoS/DDoS it). They’ll only be able to see the VPN’s IP address.
Now we know what you’re thinking – they’ll just DoS/DDoS the VPN server instead!
Sure, they can do that (they’re more than welcome to try, in fact). But they won’t be able to take the VPN servers offline. They usually have anti-DDoS protection.
VPNs Encrypt Your Traffic
When you use a VPN, your traffic is encrypted end-to-end (only the VPN app and server can encrypt and decrypt your data). If anyone tries to monitor your traffic (like hackers or ISPs), they’ll only see gibberish.
This comes in handy when you’re playing MMO games on unsecured WiFi (like a coffee shop or airport’s hotspots). Cybercriminals can’t abuse the networks’ security vulnerabilities to spy on your traffic and steal important information (like your MMO account’s login credentials).
And here’s another benefit of encryption – your ISP can’t throttle your bandwidth when you game “too much.” They will know how much data you use, sure, but they won’t know you’re using it playing a specific game. So they won’t be able to selectively throttle said games’ speeds.
VPNs Might Prevent Swatting
In a nutshell, Swatting is when someone calls emergency services to your home (like law enforcement agencies – SWAT teams to be exact). The idea is to “prank” you, but it’s easy to see how something like this can get out of hand fast.
For example, people who have been targeted with Swatting have died, and the person who called in the “prank” got jail time.
Now we’re not saying VPNs can 100% protect you from Swatting, but they can do one important thing – hide your IP address. Without it, dangerous trolls can’t use it to find specific information about your location (not the exact street address, but the city you live in).
Of course, you should also do your part – never share information about your identity and where you live in MMO games!
VPNs Can Prevent Cyberstalking
Some players can be downright creepy and try to stalk you. Even if you don’t share any personal information, they could use your IP address to learn certain things about you:
- What country you live in.
- What city you’re from.
- Which ISP you use.
- Your ZIP code.
That’s not enough to learn what street you live on or what your social media profile is, sure. But they could compromise your privacy by using phishing against your ISP, for example. If they trick someone working there to share personal data about you, they’ll find out where you live or what your name is.
And with that kind of information, they could send threatening messages, harass you, or even involve you in Swatting.
VPNs Can Protect You from Malicious Sites
Some VPNs offer ad blockers. For example, NordVPN has CyberSec and Surfshark has CleanWeb. Obviously, those features will prevent ads from loading on certain sites, so your browser will be faster. Some of those ads might be malicious, so you get extra security.
But here’s something else VPN ad blockers can do – block connections to malware-infected and phishing sites. Scammers can’t try to trick you into accessing a malicious link in-game or through email anymore. Even if you fall for it, the VPN’s ad blocker won’t let you connect to the malicious domain.
Other Ways to Stay Safe in MMO Games
Gaming VPNS can do a lot, but they’re not all-powerful. Here are some other things you should do to stay safe:
- Use antivirus software to prevent malware from infecting your device (VPNs can’t do that; they can only block connections to malware-infected sites).
- Use strong passwords and 2FA/MFA for all your accounts (and never use the same password for all of them).
- Don’t share personal information in the game.
- Don’t accept random friend requests from people you don’t know.
- Report players who hurl insults your way and mute them.
- Don’t interact with links you see in the game chat.
- Don’t share your account with anyone (most games’ TOS prohibit that anyway, so it’s a banable offense).
The Bottom Line
MMO games are fun, but they’re also risky if you come across the wrong types of players. To stay safe, we recommend using a VPN (alongside doing a few other things). If you’d like to mention other ways to protect yourself while playing MMO games, please do so in the comments.