What To Give a Gamer for the Holidays
Buying for gamers can be intimidating. Will I buy the wrong thing? Will I buy something incompatible? First step, just ask! Gamers love to talk about games! Three key questions:
- What video game console(s) do you own?
- What kinds of games do you like to play?
- What games do you want to play that you don’t already own?
Use the answers to these questions, plus your budget, to determine what gift to give the gamers in your life for the holidays.
5 games to give this holiday season
Here are recent releases from each major platform to get you started:
1. Nintendo’s last big, original first-party release of 2023, “Super Mario Bros. Wonder,” is a delightful update of the “Mario” framework. Consume psychedelic Wonder Flowers and race through stages that warp and bend.
2. Sony’s flagship PS5 2023 title, “Marvel’s Spider-Man 2,” was released in October. Web-sling across three NYC boroughs as Peter Parker and Miles Morales, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man(s).
3. For the starfaring Xbox player, developer Bethesda’s “Starfield” is a top-notch RPG with meticulous story craft, side quests and a grand mystery to untangle.
4. PC gamers will love “Baldur’s Gate 3,” an expansive “Dungeons and Dragons”–inspired fantasy odyssey, with intricate plotting and a veritable sandbox of quests and diversions to get lost in. One of the year’s top titles, it’s also being mentioned in “greatest game of all time” discussions.
5. For Mac users, try “Resident Evil Village,” which runs on any Apple silicon Mac. This survival horror gem runs surprisingly well, even on laptops, so console-less gamers can experience first-person carnage and the eight-foot vampire, Lady Dimitrescu.
We’re already at the midpoint of this generation of consoles, so your giftee may already have the system they want. Here’s a quick rundown of what’s current:
Sony just announced a slimmer, lighter PS5, including a digital-only option that can later be expanded with a disc drive add-on. If the gamer in your life hasn’t got a PS5 yet, it’s a great time to buy.
Nintendo Switch OLED
It’s rumored Nintendo will release a new console next year, but the best Switch purchase is the Nintendo Switch OLED. With a large, high-resolution screen and the ability to dock to a TV, Switch plays exclusive classics like “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe,” “The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom” and “Luigi’s Mansion 3.”
Analogue Pocket is a great gift for a retro gamer. Play old cartridges from the Game Boy and Game Boy Advance, plus Game Gear, Neo Geo and Atari L games with optional adapters. Right now your best bet is to find it from third-party sellers on sites like eBay.
Steam Deck OLED
For a PC gamer with a big Steam library, consider Steam Deck OLED. This upgraded follow-up to Steam’s popular console can’t replace a custom gaming rig, but the product is pretty good. Steam helps gamers see games they already own that work well with the device.
Xbox Series X and Series S are the latest from Microsoft. The differences? The Series S is digital-only, meaning you can’t insert discs into it. It also features a smaller footprint, lower resolution, weaker processor and much smaller price tag than its big sibling, the Series X.
Where to buy consoles, games and accessories
If you know what you want to give, search online vendors like Amazon, GameStop, Walmart and Target. Feeling lost? Visit a retailer like Best Buy or your local game shop. Sales staff can help strategize based on what consoles and genres your gamer likes.
Accessory gift ideas for gamers
Protect your Switch
All Nintendo Switch models are portable, so a carrying case can protect their precious handheld on the go. Choose one to slip into a backpack, or a bigger case to protect more games and accessories.
Play wherever you’re stationed
The PlayStation Portal is perfect for the PS5 owner who hates surrendering the TV for movie night, or who likes to play “God of War” from bed. Note this is an accessory and not a console itself. Despite the large screen and built-in gamepad, it requires a PlayStation 5 with a great internet connection to work.
For the casual iOS gamer
Apple Arcade features titles like “Iron Marines+” and “Alto’s Odyssey,” scenic games you can play anywhere. An Apple gift card to cover the subscription, plus a mobile game controller, will make iPhone gaming a joy.
Dress up your Xbox
Nongaming gifts for gamers
If you want to get something video game–themed, options abound, including coffee table books, figurines and even vinyl records. Here are some ideas:
Hades on vinyl
Fan-favorite Greek mythology rogue-lite “Hades” is known for its punishing action and engrossing story. But it’s also got an amazing soundtrack, available on vinyl.
A beautiful book
For the reader-gamer, consider “The Game Console 2.0,” a history of gaming from the arcade all the way to the powerful consoles of today, that’s perfect for a gamer’s coffee table.
A Street Fighter reader
Longtime fighting game fans will appreciate “Like a Hurricane,” Polygon’s beautifully designed and researched “Street Fighter II” oral history.
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Product features and availability may have changed and are subject to change.