You can use a VPN to change your online location on Xbox or hide your real IP address from third-parties.
There are more specific use cases, such as protecting against cyber attacks or altering your network settings, but these are often false or misrepresented.
We’ve provided a detailed breakdown of everything you can actually do with a VPN on Xbox as well as dispelling popular misconceptions in the section below:
1. Bypass ISP Throttling
Your Internet service provider (ISP) may throttle your internet connection if you carry out bandwidth-intensive tasks such as 4K streaming, torrenting, and gaming. This will slow down your download speeds and increase your latency.
Although this is unlikely to happen on your household’s local network, it can happen in public spaces with shared bandwidth such as hotels or college accommodation.
If you tend to travel with your Xbox or are currently living in a communal accommodation, then your connection might be throttled in an attempt to reduce your bandwidth consumption.
ISPs may throttle your connection if you regularly stream, game, or torrent.
To prevent this, you can encrypt your Xbox’s internet traffic with a VPN. If your ISP can’t see the nature of your traffic then it can’t throttle your connection.
2. Change Your Online Gaming Region
The vast majority of multiplayer games assign you to a region, and in turn a server, based on your real life location.
You can use a VPN to change your Xbox’s location to a region of your choice. Typically, this is used to bypass skill-based matchmaking (SBMM) on competitive shooters such as Call of Duty.
We were able to manually change our gaming region in Fortnite’s game settings.
You can do this by connecting to a region with a smaller player base such as New Zealand or Egypt. This forces the matchmaking algorithm to prioritize filling the lobby with players, rather than matching by relative ability which results in easier opponents.
In some cases, changing your gaming region can also improve your online connectivity and reduce lag. This only works in instances where the VPN server is located closer to the video game server than your real life location.
Despite what other publications claim, this is extremely rare, and using a VPN actually tends to increase lag.
3. Access Geo-Restricted Streaming Services
You can use a VPN to stream geo-blocked streaming content on your Xbox such as Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, BBC iPlayer, and more.
We used ExpressVPN to stream BBC iPlayer on our Xbox.
This works by replacing your real IP address with the IP address of the VPN server, allowing you to spoof your Xbox’s online location. For example, we unblocked BBC iPlayer on our Xbox One by connecting to a UK ExpressVPN server.
This method also works with US Netflix and international Netflix libraries. You simply connect to the relevant VPN server location and then restart your Netflix app on Xbox. To do this, hover over the Netflix app, press the menu button on your Xbox controller, and select Quit from the list of options.
4. Activate Game Keys
It’s widely reported that you can use a VPN to activate a region-locked game key from a cheaper region. We’ve verified this in our own testing but it does come with several drawbacks to consider.
Most notably, your VPN may not always work to bypass the region restriction as Microsoft continually updates its database of VPN IPs. For example, we’ve come across recent Reddit posts claiming that CyberGhost and TunnelBear have stopped working with this method.
Another issue is that you’ll need access to a browser to redeem your code, such as on a smartphone or PC. It cannot be activated on your Xbox as your console’s store region won’t match that of the game key.
If you want to use a VPN to activate Xbox game keys, follow the exact steps below:
Here’s how to activate a game key with a VPN:
- Sign up to a reputable digital marketplace. We recommend Eneba.
- Find and purchase your desired game from a cheaper region. We suggest Turkey or Nigeria.
- Sign up to a trustworthy VPN. We suggest using ExpressVPN, it consistently bypasses Microsoft’s VPN blocks in our testing.
- Connect to a VPN server located in the game key’s region.
- Redeem your new game. You can redeem your code within your Microsoft account on any browser.
While this is a reliable and cost-effective trick, it is also strictly prohibited in the Microsoft terms of service. We’ve never known of anyone to receive an account ban for taking advantage of it, but please beware that you are doing so at your own risk.
5. Change Your Strict NAT Type
If your Xbox has a strict NAT Type, you may experience longer than expected matchmaking times and large amounts of lag in your online games. It also blocks you completely from matchmaking on games that use a peer-to-peer system for connecting players.
We were able to change our strict NAT Type to moderate using a mobile hotspot.
You can change your NAT Type to moderate by sharing your VPN connection through a Windows 10 or 11 hotspot. This setup simulates a ‘virtual router’ which bypasses the strict NAT Type on your actual router.
By using this method, you can matchmake quicker on Xbox and improve your connectivity.
6. Protect Against DoS Attacks, but Not DDoS
If you livestream on Twitch, or generally play competitive multiplayer games, then you may have experienced a DoS attack.
A denial of service (DoS) attack is when someone uses your IP address to target your Xbox’s connection with large volumes of traffic. This can slow down your connection speed and sometimes even disconnect you from the internet.
You can connect to a trustworthy VPN to hide your real IP address on Xbox and limit the effectiveness of these attacks.
However, you cannot use a VPN on Xbox to protect against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks as they tend to be more severe, faster, and longer-lasting.