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What Does Port Forwarding Do For Gaming?

What Does Port Forwarding Do For Gaming?

The online gaming world is littered with many technical terms and buzzwords, some of which are poorly understood and may be challenging to explain. A prime example is port forwarding—a term that refers to a technique of improving your device’s accessibility on the internet.

Port forwarding is commonly used in gaming because of the many benefits the technique offers. Read on to learn more about its benefits, how to use it on your gaming devices, and more. 

What Does Port Forwarding Do For Gaming?

Port forwarding is required for some games and some router configurations. It makes your device accessible to connections initiated outside of your home network. If your router uses NAT protocol, but lacks UPnP, then you will need to configure port forwarding in order to host peer-hosted games on your console or PC.

Port forwarding is a configuration you may need to enable on your router to play some peer-hosted games. Port forwarding makes your gaming console or PC accessible by the internet so that other consoles or PCs can initiate connections directly with your device.

If you attempt to play a peer-hosted game, and you do not have port forwarding configured on your router, then you may not be able to host the game.

The reason for this comes down to a concept called NAT–Network Address Translation. NAT is the method your router uses to route connection requests that come into your router from outside your home network.

If you have not properly configured port forwarding for your console or PC, then your router will reject any attempts to connect with your device that come from the external internet. This will prevent you from hosting a peer-hosted game, since other players in the game will be blocked from connecting with your device by this NAT behavior.

Port forwarding solves this problem by telling your router to handle some connections if the connections are attempted over specific ports on your router. Port forwarding allows you to map certain ports, or openings, on your router to specific devices in your home network.

For example, you might set a port forward that tells your router, “Ok, take any connection attempts that come through port 4000, and send them directly to my gaming PC. Don’t reject the connection attempts.”

Through port forwarding, you configure your router to accept certain connections and to route them directly to your gaming device or console. This allows external devices to connect with yours.

How To Forward Ports For Gaming Online?

Here’s how to forward ports for gaming online:

  1. Start up your console and connect it to the internet.
  2. Go to your router’s IP address using a web browser.
  3. Locate the port forwarding section.
  4. Fill in the device’s IP address.
  5. Enter the game’s TCP and UDP ports in the required fields.
  6. Restart your device.

I recommend creating a port forward using an ethernet connection since it’s typically more robust than wireless connections.

Game creators will typically provide gamers with a list of game-specific TCP and UDP ports that you may use when setting the port forwarding rules in your router.

The steps I listed above are typical for most routers, but your router may have a few variations. Fortunately, the entire process is very intuitive, and all you need to do is locate your device’s IP settings or network settings.

How to set up port forwarding for peer-to-peer multiplayer games.

Is Port Forwarding Safe?

Port forwarding is generally safe, though it technically introduces some vulnerabilities to your network. Since port forwarding allows external connections to some devices on your home network, those devices become more vulnerable to hacking attempts. For this reason, it is wise to use a properly-configured firewall if you plan on port forwarding.

Most routers use NAT, or network address translation to handle external attempts to connect with devices on your home network. Connection attempts which are initiated outside your network are typically rejected by your router and not routed to the devices on your network.

Since port forwarding technically connects your devices directly to the internet, you lose the swatting behavior of your router, and your device becomes vulnerable to connection attempts initiated outside the home network. In this way, port forwarding may be unsafe if your device is lacking a firewall or if its firewall is not configured properly.

Does Port Forwarding Reduce Ping?

Port forwarding can reduce ping or latency, but this depends on the game you are playing. In some cases, port forwarding will allow you to connect directly with another player’s device, which can improve your latency. In games with a hosted server, however, enabling port forwarding will not have any effect on in-game latency.

In some peer-to-peer games, such as Call of Duty or Minecraft, setting up port forwarding may reduce latency. That is because these games are peer-hosted, meaning they depend on the ability of multiple devices to connect to one another directly.

Meanwhile, games like Fortnite are hosted, meaning you will not see an improvement by setting up port forwarding since the game does not require you to connect directly with other players’ consoles. Instead, all players connect to a central server hosted by the game.

Does Port Forwarding Affect Other Devices?

Port forwarding does not affect other devices on the network. It only affects the host device’s connection and how it communicates with other devices on the internet. Therefore, it will not affect other devices’ connectivity or how they communicate with other devices on the internet.

Port forwarding creates a rule for specific ports, or entry points, on your router. A typical router has around 65,000 available ports.

When you create a port forward, you are providing your router with specific instructions on how to route the traffic that comes to specific ports.

If traffic comes into your router for which there is no port forwarding rule, then your router will handle the traffic using the standard NAT method. Therefore, setting up port forwards will only affect the relevant devices for which the rule was created. It will not affect the other devices on your network.

Should You Use Port Forwarding?

You should use port forwarding for gaming if it is required for the game you are playing. Port forwarding will allow other devices on the internet to connect to your device directly, improving in-game latency and allowing you to host games multiplayer games on your device.

Whether you should use port forwarding depends on a number of factors. In some cases, port forwarding may be the only way for you to connect with other devices on the internet for the purpose of multiplayer gaming.

However, there are many cases where port forwarding is simply unnecessary. For example, if your router has UPnP capabilities, then port forwarding is a redundant step, since your router is already equipped to handle external connection requests made to your device.

Also, if the game you are playing uses a hosted server, such as Fortnite, you really won’t see any benefit from setting up port forwarding. In these cases, it’s better to leave port forwarding off.

Final Thoughts

Port forwarding is a simple technique to improve your gaming experience. It allows you to connect to multiple devices simultaneously. 

Whether or not you will benefit from port forwarding depends on the game you are playing. In some cases, port forwarding may be the ticket to lower latency and stronger connections. In other cases, it may not have any effect at all.


👋 Hey There, I'm Eric!

Since 2018, I've been making streams come true.

I like gaming, streaming and watching other people stream. I created this website to help streamers, viewers, and gamers answer questions they have regarding live streaming, gaming, and PCs. I am a Twitch affiliate and currently stream on Twitch 3 days a week. I also have a Youtube channel where I make videos about streaming. I hope you find my content helpful. Feel free to stop by one of my streams to say hi.