Nobody likes having their flow interrupted by a pop-up notification from an antivirus or security suite. Most of us can recover after dealing with whatever the suite desperately wanted to tell us, but it’s a different situation for gamers. If you’re grinding for loot and get killed by mobs because of a security popup, you’re likely to unleash a critical attack…on your security suite. The developers at NortonLifeLock, many of them gamers themselves, sat down to fix this problem, and came up with Norton 360 for Gamers.
At $99.99 per year, Norton 360 for Gamers seems to cost the same as Norton 360 Deluxe. That makes sense, given that it comes with all the features of Norton 360 Deluxe, including the full security suite, a VPN with no bandwidth limits, and 50GB of hosted online storage for your backups. But in truth, it’s more expensive, because your subscription protects just three devices, compared to five with Norton 360 Deluxe.
The price disparity isn’t quite so extreme as with McAfee Gamer Security. This product is based on McAfee AntiVirus Plus, but with most of that product’s wealth of advanced features stripped out. You pay $59.99 per year to protect just one device, while the baseline antivirus lets you install protection on every Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS device in your household for the same price.
Pricing for other cross-platform multi-device suites, ones not aimed specifically at gamers, tends to be more generous. For $149.99 per year you can install Kaspersky Internet Security on as many as 20 devices, for example. Trend Micro Maximum Security protects up to 10 devices for $89.99 per year. And a $119.99 per year subscription lets you install McAfee Total Protection on all your devices.
What Do Gamers Want?
As noted, many of this product’s developers are gamers themselves. They’re well aware that gamers need security, but don’t want it interfering with their gaming. Before embarking on creation of this product, they took a survey to see just what gamers want.
Results were unsurprising, almost all of them variations on “protect me but stay out of my face.” Requests included suppression of notifications, limiting background tasks that suck up computing power, and relegating updates to non-critical times.
Non-gamers may wonder what all the fuss is about. So your avatar gets killed and has to respawn at the start of the level—so what? But a serious gamer may spend hundreds of hours developing a character and accumulating special items. An interruption that lets an enemy destroy or damage that character can be devastating.
It’s not just in-game gold you stand to lose. In many cases, items and gold within a game are worth real-world cash. And an attack that gains access to your game account might well level up to take control of other accounts such as email or banking sites. This is especially true if you don’t use a password manager to ensure a different strong password for every site. At the very least, it costs the gamer in time and enjoyment.
In the end, the developers focused on two essential features. PC Notification Optimization can reduce notifications to the bare minimum. You only get notifications if you’re at risk or under attack, or if you’re not using all the features you’re entitled to. In full-screen mode, Norton silences all alerts except critical ones.
The other gamer-specific enhancement involves the personal data tracking component. Neither Norton 360 Deluxe nor Norton 360 for Gamers include the full protection of LifeLock’s identity theft remediation, but both will use LifeLock’s technology to monitor any appearance of your personal data on the dark web. In addition to the existing collection of personal data, the gamer edition adds tracking of up to 10 gamer tags.
Once you’ve installed Norton 360 for Gamers, you’ll find that it’s almost indistinguishable from Norton 360 Deluxe. You have the same My Norton app that manages device security, dark web monitoring, VPN, backup, passwords, and parental control. Device security on Windows looks just the same, except that the window title says Norton 360 for Gamers.
That being the case, there’s no point in a reprise of the shared features. Please click the link above and read all about Norton 360 Deluxe. Briefly, it’s an Editors’ Choice for cross-platform multi-device suite. Standout features include 50GB of hosted storage for your backups, a VPN with no bandwidth limits, a top-notch parental control system, and core security that scores high in testing. In addition, if you keep automated renewals enabled, Norton’s Virus Protection Promise means that the company will do everything possible to remediate a malware infestation that gets past the suite’s protection, including remote-control diagnosis and repair. This review will focus on what’s different in Norton 360 for Gamers.
PC Notification Optimization
When Norton briefed me on this product, there was an interesting statement in the slide deck. “PC Notification Optimization means we won’t bug you unless you’re under attack, your protection is expiring, or you aren’t using a feature you’re entitled to use. We also give you control over permanently silencing feature notifications.”
I dug into the Settings to find details about this feature and came up empty. The helpful search module in the Settings dialog didn’t find anything for me. I clicked Help to view the product manual, but it made no mention of the gamer edition.
It’s called PC Notification Optimization for a reason, by the way. While you can use your licenses to install Norton 360 on macOS, Android, or iOS devices, this feature is PC-specific.
My Norton contacts explained that there are no settings for Notification Optimization. The control over silencing notifications comes when one pops up and you check the box to not show that kind of notification again. I don’t have Norton 360 Deluxe installed for a side-by-side comparison, but that feature sounds like something I’ve seen before.
In the process of searching through Settings for the elusive Notification Optimization, I found quite a few notifications enabled. Notification of background task activity was on, for example, as well as alerts for high usage of CPU, memory, or disk resources. Even notification of special offers was turned on. Would you want to die in-game because Norton offered you a discount? Several malware-protection notification options were also visibly enabled.
I’m sure Notification Optimization does something, but I can’t offer any visible evidence. I have to assume that avid gamers will actively notice the absence of interruptions.
Dark Web Tracking of Gamer Handles
Right in the My Norton app there’s a panel related to dark web monitoring. Click View Alerts to engage with the monitoring system online. Here you can enter a large collection of personal data for monitoring: 10 bank accounts, 10 credit cards, five email addresses, five phone numbers, five physical addresses, five insurance policies, one driver’s license, and one mother’s maiden name. All those are available in Norton 360 Deluxe.
Norton 360 for Gamers adds the ability to track up to 10 gamer tags. Now if Norton finds Bravissimax the Dominator or Louboutin Assassin in dark web data dumps, you’ll know right away. That gives you a chance to intervene before someone steals your character, or your cash.
Effective Security, More to Come
Norton 360 for Gamers is almost indistinguishable from Norton 360 Deluxe. It adds dark web monitoring for your gamer tags, which may or may not be of value to you. Its Notification Optimization isn’t visible; you just have to notice the absence of intrusive popups. And for the same price as five licenses for Norton 360 Deluxe, Norton 360 for Gamers gives you just three.
Faced with the same task of tailoring security to the needs of gamers, McAfee Gamer Security carved away huge swathes of features found in McAfee AntiVirus Plus. McAfee also cut the number of devices protected from unlimited within your household down to just one, for the same price. At least Norton retains its full capabilities, in a quieted-down form.
Since Norton 360 for Gamers is a spinoff from Norton 360 Deluxe, it has a boatload of effective and helpful security features. It’s a good product. But the gamer-specific additions don’t merit paying a higher price. Stick with Norton 360 Deluxe, which is an Editors’ Choice for cross-platform multi-device security for now. The developers plan to enhance the gamer edition based on feedback from users, and already have some enhancements planned. We’ll revisit this product after it levels up.
Not a Norton fan? Consider Bitdefender Total Security. For years, Bitdefender has promoted what it calls Autopilot mode, meaning it takes care of security without involving the user. This feature-rich product is an Editors’ Choice for security mega-suite.
Norton 360 for Gamers Specs