What is NAT and how does it effect me gaming?

Put simply, NAT (Network Address Translation), is the technology that makes your home network. Network Address Translation is a process where a network device, usually a firewall, assigns a public address to a computer inside a private network.

Sometimes, there are some limitations of NAT by the manufacturers, these can put restrictions on the type of connection you can access - usually this will reveal itself when attempting to play multiplayer games that require 'Open' or 'Type 1' and 'Type 2' NATs to get the best connection.

What are NAT types?

Sony’s PlayStation, Microsoft’s Xbox and Nintendo's Switch are the three major gaming consoles that are often preferred by gamers. Unfortunately, these gaming consoles struggle in a closed NAT environment.

NAT types are often times the same when it comes to consoles and PC devices - this is due to the fact that nowadays, most PC gaming takes place on Microsoft systems and therefore you’ll likely get the same NAT types as someone on Xbox.

When you’re gaming on a PC, your NAT Type will usually show in-game. However, when gaming on a console, to locate your NAT Type, you’ll have to head over to the dashboard of the console.

PlayStation NAT Types:

Sony's NAT Types with a number ranging from 1 to 3, with 1 being the best and 3 being the worst. According to their official documentation, the 3 different NAT Types are:

  • Type 1: As the name suggests, this is the open Type NAT that allows all the devices connected through the network to send and receive data. All the shared data is unrestricted, and there are no firewall configurations in place. 

  • Type 2:  NAT Type 2 is ideal when setting up your PlayStation for online gaming. It means that your  PlayStation console is connected behind a router as well as forwarding  the ports of your PlayStation and receiving incoming packets on the console. You should also be able to get invites from other players with hinderance and  host multiplayer lobbies without any limitations on chat, video, etc.

    To get NAT Type 2 on your PlayStation console, you’ll need to do one of the following: 
    -  Forward Sony Network’s ports on your router, or 
    -  Setup a DMZ in your router pointing at your PlayStation, or 
    -  Have a standalone UPnP compliant network, meaning a separate network with UPnP enabled. 

  • Type 3: You want to actively avoid attempting to use a Type 3 NAT connection. On a Type 3 NAT connection, it is unlikely you will be able to host any lobbies or connect via in-game chat or VoIP, and whilst you may find you are able to connect to other players, it's not likely they will be able to connect to you. 

    If you have NAT Type 3 on your PlayStation then you need to forward the PlayStation Network ports in your router to your PlayStation in order to get NAT Type 2. This can also be caused by having multiple routers on your network. 

Xbox NAT Types:

Microsoft, the manufacturer of Xbox, has designated three NAT Types for their consoles: Open, Moderate, and Strict, which differ from Sony's NAT types 1, 2, and 3:

  • Open: Similar to how NAT type 1 is considered optimal for PlayStation devices, achieving NAT type Open is the objective when engaging in online gaming on Xbox. When you configure port forwarding on your router and specify the port number as 3074, your router becomes aware of this setting and begins forwarding incoming packets accordingly. As a result, your Xbox will start receiving game requests from other players without any issues. With this setup, you can now host multiplayer lobbies on your Xbox, enjoying unrestricted chat and video capabilities without any limitations. 

    To get NAT Type Open on your Xbox console (Xbox One & Xbox 360), you need to do one of the following:
    - Forward Xbox Live ports on your router, or
    - Setup a DMZ in your router pointing at your PlayStation, or
    - Have a dedicated UPnP-supported network, meaning a separate internet network with UPnP enabled. 

    By implementing any of the aforementioned approaches, achieving an Open NAT Type on your Xbox should be a straightforward process. Nevertheless, port forwarding stands out as the most effective technique for configuring an Open NAT Type. 

  • Moderate:  Having a Moderate NAT type is an improvement over having a Strict NAT type, but it falls short of the benefits offered by an Open NAT. With Moderate NAT, you may encounter occasional disruptions or instances where things don't work smoothly for a few days. This NAT type can result in increased latency, leading to more noticeable lags and challenges when attempting to join game lobbies and communicate with other online players. Additionally, being unable to act as a host further adds to the limitations imposed by Moderate NAT. 

  • Strict: Having a Strict NAT Type on your Xbox is considered the most undesirable scenario. It indicates that your ports are not correctly forwarded, which can be problematic. Another reason for encountering a Strict NAT Type is when you have multiple routers configured on your main network provided by your internet service provider (ISP).  

    With a Strict NAT Type, the following implications arise: Your Xbox is connected to a router that is positioned behind at least one other router. Consequently, the incoming connection requests are not being forwarded by your router to your Xbox. As a result, you will face several limitations, such as being unable to host multiplayer lobbies, communicate with other online players, or participate in video conferences.

    To resolve this issue, if you have a Strict NAT Type, you will need to manually configure port forwarding on your router, directing the appropriate ports to your Xbox. By performing this port forwarding process, you can successfully achieve an Open NAT Type, which allows for unrestricted online gaming and communication capabilities.

Nintendo Switch NAT Types

Depending on your ISP (Internet Service Provider) and network setup, Nintendo Switch generally uses 5 NAT types - A, B, C, D and F.

  • NAT Type A: This status signifies that your Nintendo Switch unit has uninterrupted online communication capabilities and can connect seamlessly. 
  • NAT Type B: This status signifies that your Nintendo Switch unit can communicate online with some limitations.
  • NAT Type C: This status suggests that your Nintendo Switch unit is experiencing a moderate level of restrictions when it comes to online communication.
  • NAT Type D: This status indicates that your Nintendo Switch unit is subject to moderate restrictions. Nintendo Switch units with NAT Type D can only communicate with other units that have NAT Type A. 
  • NAT Type F: This status indicates that your Nintendo Switch unit is unable to establish communication with other devices and cannot participate in online multiplayer. To resolve this, you may need to modify your network or router configuration by implementing port forwarding or using a VPN.

For optimal online gameplay with others, it is recommended to have your Nintendo Switch unit set to NAT Type A or B

To get NAT type A, you will need to contact your ISP to further steps on how to open your connection.

PC NAT Types:

NAT types apply to both consoles and PC devices in a similar manner. Since Microsoft systems are commonly used for PC gaming, it is common to encounter NAT Type Open, NAT Type Moderate, and NAT Type Strict during online gaming sessions.

When gaming on a PC, your NAT Type will typically be displayed within the game interface. However, if you are gaming on a console, you will need to access the console's dashboard to locate your NAT Type.

If you find that your NAT Type is Strict or Moderate while gaming on a PC, you can refer to the previously mentioned Xbox section to learn how to configure NAT Type Open on your PC. The instructions provided for Xbox can be adapted to help you achieve an Open NAT Type for an improved gaming experience on your PC.