Recently, a close friend of mine asked me about using a VPN when playing WoW, and that she had read on forums that it could cause her to get banned. Having played World of Warcraft myself for a solid three years of my life, I quickly got interested and did some of my own research. I quickly remembered using a VPN for WoW specifically during the times I played on college campus. The firewall blocked all of Blizzard’s gaming servers and by connecting through a tunnel, I was able to bypass the restriction and play freely. I was also always security oriented and refused to connect to public Wi-Fi without having my VPN turned on. Before I get into using a VPN for World of Warcraft, the game deserves a quick summary of its’ history, and where it presently stands.
Blizzard is releasing a sixth expansion on August 30th called Legion, which is now available to pre-order. World of Warcraft has been with us for twelve years now, and peaked in 2010 with more than 12 million paying subscribers actively playing the game. Only a few PC games came close to selling as many copies, such as The Sims, Diablo III, Starcraft and Counter-Strike, but only Minecraft has surpassed WoW with over 24 million copies sold albeit having a cheaper monthly subscription fee. Unsurprisingly, World of Warcraft numbers eventually fell with, but only five years later. In 2014, Blizzard still reported 10 million subs, but sharply dropped down to 5 million by 2015. Blizzard has decided to no longer report subscriber numbers, but it is expected that the latest expansion coming will bring some old players back. The expansion promises to re-invigorate the game with a multitude of new content, see the preview video below if you’re interested.
Using a VPN for WoW
Jumping back on topic, I myself had never encountered any issues using a VPN, nor did I ever get banned from the servers. There are various reasons why VPNs may be legitimately used for WoW. I already mentioned the example of restricted networks, such as when I was playing on college campus, but some countries in the world have restricted and censored internet access which often includes games and Blizzard servers. For example, it has been reported back in 2012 that Iran no longer had access to WoW. Other countries such as Syria and Sudan have shared similar situations, all due to political U.S. sanctions. By using a VPN from Iran, or any other affected location, players could effectively spoof their location and play on North American or European servers.
Additionally to unblocking game servers, gamers also use VPNs for general security and DDoS protection. And although using encryption is known to slow down your internet, it can also help attain better ping times and less lag when you’re playing on servers that are located far away. For example, if you’re in Europe and try to play on North American servers, you might experience lag. But by connecting to a VPN server in North America, preferably as close or the same city as the server, you will have a much more direct and short path between you and the server. This optimizes and speeds up data transfer speeds between your computer and the game server because the private network doesn’t jump around as much as your ISP connection would. In summary, here are a few ways players have benefited from WoW VPN services.
- Access Blizzard servers on restricted networks. Eg: Work or School network.
- Access game in countries where it is not supported by Blizzard, or blocked by local government.
- Protect yourself and your data on public Wi-Fi networks.
- Protect yourself from DDoS attacks, or malicious hackers on WoW.
- Create shorter routes to game servers located far away for better latency, ping, and less lag.
Overall, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to use a VPN, and having it on while playing on Blizzard servers should not be a problem. However over the years, some players have been banned, albeit being able to get their accounts restored with a single phone call. There are dozens of forums threads on this topic, but a recent reddit thread confirms that VPNs can be used, but that players should stick away from free public services. The problem stems of illigitamate use of VPNs such as bots and gold sellers. Further below, I discuss in detail the issues VPN users face, and how to avoid getting banned when using one. For now, I will cover the best VPN services for playing World of Warcraft.
VPN for WoW – Top Picks:
If you don’t want to sacrifice any speed, because VPNs do tend to slow down your internet, Express is known for doing very little of that. The top-tier service is known to be secure, stable, and compatible on all platforms. Specifically a great choice for hardcore gamers thanks to having a VPN router app, and SmartDNS for Playstation and Xbox. One account allows up to 5 simultaneous devices, provides coverage in hundreds of cities across more than 80 countries, and makes a great fit for WoW and all gaming or video streaming needs. A 30-day money back guarantee is always honored in case the service does not work to your liking.
If you’re seeking the best bang for your dollar deal, PIA does a great job of providing competitively priced yearly plans without having to sacrifice too much quality. Not as fast, but not a slouch, Private Internet Access is able to provide a solid service at a cheaper cost by covering less countries. Coming in at only 24 countries, they still make a great choice since you might not need all those other connection points. Bandwidth and performance is supported by thousands of servers and plenty of cities to choose from. Each account can have up to 5 devices using it at the same time, but the service only offers a 1 week money back guarantee.
If speed is not your concern, but security is due to heavy government regulations and world wide web restrictions, both VPN services above will do a fine job with a clean record of keeping absolutely no traffic logs, however NordVPN goes the extra mile and provides Tor over VPN and Double VPN servers to layer up your security to another level. However, I have recently adopted them as my favorite gaming VPN for less concerning reasons. Along with layered security servers, they also offer dedicated IP, Anti-DDoS and ultra-fast servers that cater well to all gaming needs. Cost is a little lower than ExpressVPN and a bit higher than Private Internet Access, placing them right in between with over 500 servers across 49 different countries. The service cost provides good value considering one account can also use up to 5 devices at the same time. The service is also backed by a solid 30-day money back guarantee.
The last suggestion I have for World of Warcraft VPN services is IPVanish. They also provide a high quality tier-1 network that promises to deliver the best possible speeds, and impressively cover more than 60 countries. Customer service is part of the best in the industry and they honor all refund requests within the first 7 days, leaving you almost a full week to test the service risk free. Yearly plans are competitively priced and each account can have 5 simultaneous devices using it.
How to Avoid Getting Banned Using a VPN on WoW
After carefully browsing through over a dozen forum posts dating back as early as 2009, I found a few common denominators that explained why some players had their WoW accounts suspended while using a VPN connection. All MMO games are known for having cheaters and bots, but WoW also has resources, and tons of bots are used to attempt to farm and sell gold. The people behind these shenanigans use VPNs and continuously cycle through new accounts and banned IPs. Scammers also hate to pay for stuff, so generally they use whatever free VPN service they can find with no care about security or performance. This has caused numerous legitimate players to get banned by Blizzard, whom reported receiving an email stating their account had been used for gold trading or selling. This happens because Blizzard bans VPN IP lists that it detects are being used by bots and other malicious activity going against their TOS.
There are a few other steps to take in order to avoid an unwarranted ban. You should not be jumping from one location to another. The reason my friend inquired about using a VPN for WoW was because she was prompted to enter her security token more often than usual. After re-tracing her actions, she recalled having logged in with her VPN connection on, and within less than 30 minutes, she had connected with the VPN turned off. This caused for her IP and location to change, which warranted the 2-step verification to kick in. Below I made a list of all the precautionary steps to take when using a VPN on Blizzard servers.
- Avoid using free VPN services – they continuously get abused and are regularly blacklisted.
- Avoid unrealistically changing locations. If you connect from New York, do not change to a server located in California, or cycle through multiple locations within a small amount of time. If your IP constantly changes to locations far apart, it will flag your account for suspicious activity.
- Ensure that the VPN is either On or Off before logging in depending on your needs. Switching between your ISP and VPN server will also cause the account to get flagged, as the location is likely to be different. If you are connecting to a server in the same city as you reside in, this should not be a problem.
- Invest in and use Blizzard’s 2-Step Security Token Authenticator. It only costs a few dollars, and helps Blizzard confirm your identity when logging in, as well as protecting your account against hackers.
VPN Usage is Not Against Blizzard’s TOS:
How to Get Unbanned
With that said, Blizzard does not and will not restrict players from using a VPN if they ever so chose to. For one, it would undermine the security of those who actually need it, and in some cases the game cannot be played without one. If you have been banned or ever do get banned for using a VPN, the easiest way to reclaim your account is to avoid exchanging a series of emails, and requesting a service call. By speaking to support directly over the phone. I hope this article has helped demystify any questions you might have had around using a VPN service for WoW. Leave a comment below for feedback or any questions.