More people are gamers than you might think. I have friends who play mobile games on their phone during their morning commute — they are gamers. I have friends who go for gold in competitive PC games — they are most certainly gamers. Gaming isn’t limited to traditional consoles like the PlayStation 5 or Nintendo Switch — and this can make it difficult to buy a gift for a gamer, especially if you’re not sure what their platform of choice is.
This list encompasses a variety of gifts almost any gamer can appreciate. Instead of focusing on novelty items like branded clothes, we chose to focus on games themselves, and the equipment that goes hand in hand with playing those games. Before you buy a gift for any gamer, just make sure to check in with them about which devices or consoles they prefer to use so you’re getting them something they’ll actually use.
The best gifts for gamers
To choose the best gifts for gamers, we relied on a mix of hands-on testing, industry reviews and expert guidance. As a lifelong gamer and professional writer, I’ve personally used many of these products. We included a mix of critically acclaimed games, gaming peripherals, digital gift cards and subscriptions.
“Hades” is fast-paced, action-packed fun inside a Greek world of myth. You play as Zagreus, son of Hades, as he tries to battle his way out of the underworld and reach Mount Olympus. Dodging and slashing your way through this vivid, painterly setting never gets old. The amazing art, music, characters and story make this one of the best games to gift to friends. “Hades” is available on almost every game console as well as PC and Mac.
“Stray”puts you in the shoes — well, paws — of a stray cat living in a futuristic world with no human beings. Separated from your colony, you explore an eerie and strange setting with the company of a flying robotic drone named B-12. The game is only a few hours long, but it is very enjoyable for casual and veteran gamers alike, mainly because playing as a lifelike cat is endlessly entertaining. “Stray”is only available digitally on PS5 and PS4 consoles, so gifting a PlayStation Store gift card to buy the game with is your best option.
“Elden Ring” is one of the biggest games of 2022, with dozens of top reviews and 10/10 ratings. It’s a massive fantasy adventure where you explore a dark and immersive world in ruin. Similar to games like “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” half of the fun of “Elden Ring” is its openness: you can explore every last bit of the game. But be warned: “Elden Ring” is tough as nails — defeating its massive, fearsome bosses is intimidating, but rewarding.
Elden Ring is available on PC, PlayStation and Xbox.
If you’d like to gift a video game to a PC-loving friend but don’t know which one to buy, a Steam gift card is a good alternative. Steam is a digital PC gaming storefront with a library of over 50,000 games — a Steam gift card can go towards the digital purchase of any game on the platform, meaning you’ll be helping the recipient purchase whatever game they want, instead of just whatever game you’ve heard of.
Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass service is essentially Netflix for video games: Users pay a subscription fee and get access to hundreds of games on Xbox or PC. The service has over 25 million subscribers, and Microsoft adds new games at least once a month. Gifting a PC or Xbox gamer a three-month membership is a great way to give them hundreds of quality games.
Similar to Xbox Game Pass, Apple Arcade is a gaming subscription service for Apple users. Users pay a monthly subscription fee and can download hundreds of different games to their iPhone, iPad or Macbook. One of the best parts of Apple Arcade is curation — the games available are much better than the free or dated games you might find on the App Store.
You cannot purchase an Apple Arcade subscription for someone else, but you can gift them an Apple gift card that they can use to pay for the $5 subscription fee.
Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is experiencing a surge in popularity. Whether it’s popular D&D livestream groups like Critical Role or D&D references in Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” D&D is everywhere. And actually playing D&D is easier, and a lot more casual, than you might think. With the D&D 5th edition starter set, any group of friends can get together and enjoy a fantasy adventure a la “Lord of the Rings” or “Game of Thrones.” In essence, it’s a board game mixed with group improv, all in a fantasy world of your making.
Virtual reality is no longer science fiction, at least in the realm of gaming. Meta’s Quest 2 VR headset is the perfect introduction into virtual reality gaming: It’s a standalone, self-contained kit containing a headset and two controllers, all wireless. With it, you can immerse yourself in interactive games like “Beat Saber,” “Superhot VR, “Moss” and “Walkabout Mini Golf.” Unlike other VR kits, the Quest 2 is intuitive to set up and easy to use.
The Nintendo Switch is one of our favorite handheld game consoles. It has some of the most fun multiplayer games on the market, from “Mario Kart” to “Overcooked.” If the gamer in your life has any interest in Nintendo characters or gaming on the go, the Nintendo Switch would make a great gift.
There is a chance whoever you are shopping for already has a Nintendo Switch. If they do, they will likely appreciate a Switch Pro Controller, a full-fledged wireless controller that’s comfortable to use for hours on end. Unlike the Joy-Cons included with the Switch, the Pro Controller works well for large hands, and offers a more traditional feel that many gamers prefer.
This gaming monitor is one of our favorites, offering a great value and excellent performance. It delivers fast speeds and a responsive feel, perfect for gamers who play fast-paced competitive games like “Apex Legends” or “Overwatch 2.” At 27 inches across, it’s a great fit for desks and workspaces, with adjustable height, swivel, tilt and pivot for added ergonomic comfort.
One of the best gaming mice, Logitech’s G305 wireless mouse is stalwart. It is a simple, affordable, lightweight gaming mouse that offers precise control to any gamer on PC or Mac. The Logitech Hero sensor is very fast and accurate, with a max DPI of 12,000 and a polling rate of 1000Hz. It makes fast-paced games a whole lot easier to play when compared to a traditional office mouse.
A mousepad might seem like a basic gift, but a good one can make a world of difference for gamers playing on PC or Mac. The Steelseries QcK mousepad is a longstanding favorite of mine because of its low price and smooth consistency. It also comes in a wide variety of sizes.
Many gamers like to get together with friends online via platforms like Discord and Steam. If the gamer you’re shopping for likes to chat with friends online, they may want a mic to replace their laptop microphone, which can make voices sound muffled. The SteelSeries Arctis 1 headset delivers quality game and microphone sound. For gamers who play online, it’s an easy solution to audio and communication issues.
The SteelSeries Arctis 1, one of our favorite gaming headsets, is compatible with PS5, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch and Android devices.
If the gamer you are shopping for produces video content or livestreams to friends, they likely understand the importance of a good webcam. Razer’s Kiyo Pro webcam is one of the best for gamers because of its great low-light performance. It’s leagues above any built-in laptop webcam, and it’s extensively customizable through Razer’s Synapse software.
Gamers with lots of gadgets often face charging issues — especially on the go, finding an outlet, or bringing the right chargers, can be a headache. Anker’s 525 Power Bank is a portable battery pack that’s great for changing smartphones, headsets, controllers and more. It can charge devices of all kinds with its USB-A and USB-C ports. Mine has been invaluable on many train and airplane trips.
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