Your Guide to Overcoming Geo-Restrictions When Gaming Abroad
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If you’ve ever come across the message “this service isn’t available in your area,” you have most likely been hit by a geo-block. Companies and internet service providers use geo-blocking to protect copyrighted content in specific regions. This has become an issue on a global level, especially when it comes to gaming. Besides not being able to access specific games, users might face geo-restrictions when traveling abroad. Read on to learn more about how geo-blocking works and how you can bypass it.
What Is Geo-Blocking?
Geo-blocking is a common strategy that content providers and ISPs use to restrict access to certain games, websites, or video content. These online content limitations are based on geographical locations. Major content providers such as Hulu, Netflix, HBO, and even Amazon use geo-blocking to control who has access to their content. The reason geo-blocking exists is that internet providers or content providers often don’t hold the rights to all the content they offer.
So, the content can only be distributed in regions approved by the legal rights holder. Geo-blocking is also used to manage licensing regulations. Providers must purchase licensing rights from a country to be able to show their content there. If they don’t have a license, the content must be blocked. Even though geo-restrictions are most commonly used to ensure that all legal regulations are respected, this strategy is also used for other purposes.
For instance, many online retailers and service providers use geo-restrictions to implement price discrimination. They display different pricing for the same product based on the location of the customer. For example, if a person is located in a third world country, they are most likely going to see lower prices. However, if they live in a developed country, retailers and service providers tend to offer a higher price to increase profitability.
How to Bypass Geo-Blocking
Overcoming geo-restrictions allows users to access blocked content and find better deals on products and services sold online. For example, by changing your virtual location to India, you can access the same pricing structure offered in this country. It will likely be much lower compared to the prices in the US. Geo-blocking can be bypassed by hiding or replacing your IP address. Each user has a unique IP address tied to their location, which tells the internet service providers when they should restrict certain types of content.
There are a few ways users can hide their IP addresses to avoid geo-blocking.
- The first and most popular method is to use a VPN and get a fake IP address (Read here). It’s a great choice because it also serves as an extra layer of security and allows users to browse the internet anonymously. Therefore, when you travel outside of UK, VPN will not only bypass the geo-restrictions, but it will also protect your device.
- Another way to hide an IP address is to use a smart DNS, which replaces the original DNS address with a new one. DNS addresses assigned by internet service providers also reveal the user’s location. Thus, by changing their DNS address, users are most likely going to bypass geo-restrictions. However, this method does not involve any encryption, so it is much less secure compared to VPNs.
- The third way to hide an IP address and bypass geo-blocking is to use proxies. A proxy is an intermediary service that stands between a small network and the web. Even though the proxy will hide an IP address when requesting access to specific content, it won’t make it completely invisible online. The owner of the proxy will still be able to see your address. Much like the DNS method, the proxy servers don’t offer any additional security.
- Lastly, users can bypass geo-restrictions by using TOR or The Onion Router. TOR is a completely free service that hides the user’s IP address whenever they send or request data online. This method essentially hides your traces on the internet and makes it easier to access locked content. However, TOR is not the most reliable option. It can get blocked by the internet service provider if detected. And using TOR can slow down the internet speed, which can get a bit annoying.
Geo-restrictions are not a temporary issue but rather an ongoing struggle for internet users across the world. However, there are multiple ways to bypass them by hiding your IP address. Try using a proxy server, TOR, or smart DNS. However, virtual private networks are by far the most efficient solution for this issue, since VPNs provide extra security along the way. So shop around and find a provider that’s best for you.