Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) provide a secure environment to connect two or more machines. They’re extremely useful for security, but you can also use them to mimic a local area network for other purposes. In the case of low latency game streaming to play computer games over the internet, a VPN can be overkill and impact performance.
Although it works well under some circumstances, VPN’s aren’t a good fit for this type of high intensity low latency game streaming. Here are three reasons you shouldn’t use a VPN for game streaming.
1. VPN’s add overhead — VPN’s are built by wrapping your data in an extra layer of information (called encapsulation). Encapsulation is required to make sure your traffic is secured from prying eyes. The downside of this encapsulation is that it adds significant overhead, and if your internet packet is already at full size, it will spill over to two packets instead of just one — meaning each video frame requires longer to send and receive, slowing down the pace. Parsec uses DTLS and SHA-256 encryption to secure every packet. We do everything we can to secure each packet while minimizing the overhead on each packet.
2. VPN’s are inefficient for low latency streaming — most VPN’s rely on a protocol called TCP. TCP is good for reliability, but sacrifices performance. For each TCP packet received, your computer is required to let the sender know it received the data (Acknowledge packet). Most game streaming services rely on a much faster protocol called UDP — this protocol does not need to send the Acknowledge packet — because of this, UDP is much faster and more efficient. Most VPN’s will encapsulate your UDP game streaming data in TCP, which ruins the whole benefit of using UDP in the first place. Parsec built its own UDP protocol we call BUD. The benefits over TCP are demonstrated in the video below. Essentially, we make tolerate loss while maintaining some reliability. The goal is to keep a smooth game experience while pushing the boundary on latency without compromising security.
3. VPN’s require advanced technical knowledge — Most VPN’s require either a static IP address, or Dynamic DNS setup, as well as port forwarding. For most users, this is complicated and takes a long time to understand the terminology. Not all home routers support features like port forwarding or dynamic DNS either, so you may need to buy additional hardware or a static IP address. We built a service that relies on NAT traversal, hole punching, and UPnP to make a direct connection between two machines. Our methodology should work automatically approximately 75% of the time. For those times it doesn’t work, you may have to use port forwarding or call your IT admin and beg him to let Parsec packets through :).
Parsec is custom made for gaming over the internet, it offers a low latency UDP gaming experience with industry standard encryption built right in. Parsec requires no advanced networking knowledge nor any third-party tools like VPN. Parsec also uses your home router and existing gaming PC so no new hardware is required.
At Parsec we want you to have the best experience ever playing your PC games in and outside of the home. We’ve developed some great technology that takes all the hard work out of game streaming.