Source: Jakub Sisulak

Microsoft’s Xbox One is one of the most successful gaming consoles of all time, with nearly fifty million units sold by the end of 2020. The Xbox One X edition ups the ante with roughly 40% more processing power, and the S model boasts a smaller size and price tag.

But if you connect your Xbox to the internet without a Virtual Private Network or VPN, you might be putting your time, money, and even your safety at risk. 

This guide will explain how using a VPN on your Xbox One, Series X, S can help you get the best gaming experience possible.

What is a VPN?

A VPN is a private connection between you and the internet. 

Without going into the technical details, a VPN sends your internet traffic through an encrypted tunnel to a server hosted by the VPN provider. This can make your browsing more private and change your geographical location online.

If you are curious how a VPN works or why you need one for your Xbox, the following reasons will give you a clearer picture.

How a VPN helps with your Xbox One, Series X, or a Series S

Source: Mika Baumeister

You might not think you need a VPN on your Xbox — it is just a machine for playing games, right? But unfortunately, here are three of the biggest reasons why that is not quite true.

Network filters

Thanks to its size, the Xbox Series X is great for taking on the go. 

But you will quickly realize that many public networks filter web traffic to block activity related to video games — famously, Fortnite is commonly blocked in schools. But even if you don’t play online, many networks block the Xbox store, so you won’t even be able to download new single-player games.

Even at home, you might not be in total control of your network.

Internet service providers commonly throttle network traffic to lessen the load on their servers or encourage people to pay for more expensive connections. As a result, heavy-duty activities like torrenting or online gaming become frequent targets.

When you use a VPN, though, your network traffic is encrypted, meaning your internet provider will not be able to see which sites you visit. 

In the end, their automated filters won’t realize if you’re playing online matches or using the Xbox store.  You might also see a marked increase in download speeds and a decreased ping — both vital for a smooth online experience.

Regional game prices

Most people don’t realize that video games are priced differently depending on where they buy them. 

Since a game can have different publishers for each country where it is sold, for instance, you might pay double for the same game just because your Xbox One uses the North American marketplace. But, on the other hand, Grand Theft Auto V is nearly a third cheaper in Turkey.

Thankfully, a VPN can change your online location: this will make your Xbox One think it is in a different country and let you access cheaper marketplaces.

Here is an example. 

  1. Find the country with the lowest price for the game you want (Turkey, for instance). 
  2. Connect to a VPN server somewhere in that country.
  3. Use PayPal to convert cash to the local currency automatically. 

Your Xbox will automatically use the Turkish Xbox store, letting you enjoy cheaper games.

Your own safety

Source: Lianhao Qu

Here’s a frightening story: after a Call of Duty game in 2018, a gamer phoned in a fake crime report to send armed police to a rival’s house, which ultimately led to their tragic death.

This trend, called swatting, has already taken numerous lives and does not look to be stopping any time soon. The worst part is that you don’t need to use your real name in your Gamertag or put where you live in your bio to get swatted. 

When you go online, your device uses a unique code, called an IP address, to manage your network connection. You can find your Xbox One’s address in the Network menu of the Settings page.

Since every address is unique, it is easy for someone to use it to track you down. A VPN, however, masks your IP with the VPN server’s address, hiding your true location. As mentioned before, it can also change your online whereabouts, so you could even send a swatter looking for you in the wrong country.

Final thoughts

The Xbox One and its subsequent editions are great ways to relax and have some fun. But if you are not careful, it is easy to get saddled with slow network speeds, unfair regional prices, or even a visit from the local police.

That is why installing a VPN on your Xbox One is so important. Of course, it will not fix every problem with online gaming, like laggy servers or inept teammates — but it is a proactive way to keep control when you go online.