Buying games as gifts is not easy

Buying gifts for a gamer isn’t easy, but this handy guide should help you find the perfect video game-related present this Christmas.

If your loved one is a keen gamer then they’re certain to appreciate something related to video games as a present, but what exactly? You could just ask them, but that spoils all the fun. The guide below should help you to navigate the minefield of choices, although if you can at least find out what kind of console (or gaming PC) they already own that will make things a lot easier. The links below to individual console deals are only examples of the sort of prices you can expect to pay, so do shop around as offers change every day.

Video game console Christmas gifts

Given even the cheapest is close to £200, a new console is not exactly the sort of thing you’re going to be handing out as Secret Santa. But if you know someone that’s into games then there’s going to be nothing they’d like better than a new console. The choice of what to get them is complicated by the fact that a whole new generation of consoles is due out next year, although that in turn means the current ones can be picked up for considerably less than usual.

PlayStation 4 (~£240)

Sony’s console is by far the most successful of the current generation of formats, which means there’s a good chance whoever you’re buying gifts for has already got one. If not, there are some decent deals around, with the base console itself now going for around £270.

PlayStation 4 FIFA 20 bundle – £234.95
PlayStation 4 Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare bundle – £232.47
PlayStation 4 Fortnite Neo Versa bundle with second controller – £238.99

The perfect Christmas gift for someone (pic: Sony)

PlayStation 4 Pro (~£320)

Even if your gift recipient does have a PlayStation 4 they might not have the more advanced Pro model. It doesn’t make that much difference, but it will run all current PlayStation 4 games more smoothly and at higher resolution, so it’s the console of choice for the serious gamer. It’s more expensive, naturally, but there are some good bundles with top games like FIFA and Call Of Duty.

PlayStation 4 Pro FIFA 20 bundle – £318.29
PlayStation 4 Pro Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare bundle – £323.47
PlayStation 4 Pro Fortnite Neo Versa bundle – £315.19

PlayStation VR (~£225)

Another good option for someone that already has a PlayStation 4, especially as it’s been announced it will work with the upcoming PlayStation 5. It might not seem like it, but it’s the cheapest way to get a good, high quality virtual reality experience and the most recent hardware bundles include a bunch of great games.

PlayStation VR Starter Pack – £224.79

The cheapest console deal this Christmas (pic: Microsoft)

Xbox One (~£170)

Thanks to some marketing bungles when it first launched, the Xbox One has struggled to make as much impact as its predecessor but now, near the end of its life, it’s still managed to accumulate a lot of exclusive games that PlayStation 4 owners won’t have had the chance to play. And with some very low price bundles this Christmas it’s a good choice as a second, or even third, console for a keen gamer.

The cheaper model, equivalent to the base model of the PlayStation 4, is called the Xbox One S and costs around £200, depending on what games you get with it. But there’s also something called an Xbox One S All-Digital Edition, which is the exact same thing but without a disc drive – so you can’t play physical games or movies on it. The price difference isn’t that much though, so make sure you know what you’re getting when you choose between the two.

Xbox One S All-Digital Edition and 3 games – £167.99
Xbox One S – £198.49

Xbox One X (~£300)

This is the Microsoft equivalent to the PlayStation 4 Pro and offers similar upgrades to performance and picture resolution. It’s a bigger leap than between Sony’s two console models though and is currently the most powerful console in the world, which obviously has a big appeal to gamers – although equally obviously it’s quite expensive.

Xbox One X and Gears 5 Limited Edition – £299.00
Xbox One X and Forza Horizon 5 – £299.00
Xbox One X and Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order – £299.00

Pick your colour (pic: NIntendo)

Nintendo Switch (~£280)

Although the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One came out at the same time, in 2013, the Switch has only been around since 2017 – because Nintendo’s initial console this generation, the Wii U, was a complete flop. The Switch has been the total opposite though and is already on course to beat the Xbox One, despite the huge head start.

As with the other formats there are two models of Switch, but although they’re very different neither is any more powerful than the other. The original Switch model can be played as a portable console or by connecting it to your TV, whereas the newer and cheaper Switch Lite is only a portable.

That means the Switch Lite doesn’t actually switch and because it doesn’t have detachable controllers there’s a small number of games you can’t play on it without borrowing someone else’s, most prominently 1-2-Switch, Snipperclips, and Nintendo Labo.

Nintendo Switch Mario Kart 8 Deluxe bundle – £279.99
Nintendo Switch Lite – £199.85

Google Stadia

One new option instead of a console is Stadia, Google’s new video game streaming service. It doesn’t require any console or other hardware, other than a compatible phone or TV, and lets you play games wherever you want. That’s the theory anyway, the launch earlier this year was a bit underwhelming and it won’t really have a chance to come into its own for a few months yet. It also requires an expensive £119 purchase at the moment, so unless you know someone that definitely wants it it’s a bit of a risk this Christmas.

Apple Arcade

A much cheaper subscription option is the excellent Apple Arcade on iOS, which has a free trial and is only £4.99 a month for over a 100 mostly very good games. There isn’t a specific gift card for it, but you can buy a generic Apple one here. There’s also the superb value Xbox Game Pass, but since it has a trial for just £1 that’s not much of a present, unless you want to pay out for a 12-month subscription.

The perfect retro gift (pic: Sega)

Mega Drive Mini

Retro mini consoles are still big business at the moment and the one for Sega’s famous 16-bit console is a really good effort. Stock is running low at the moment, but you should be able to pick one up a Mega Drive Mini for around £60. If whoever you’re buying for is in their 30s or 40s they’re bound to love it.

Capcom Home Arcade

The Capcom Home Arcade is a similar deal to the Mega Drive Mini, except it’s for 16 classic arcade games of around the same period. It’s much more expensive though, because it comes with two sets of arcade quality joysticks and buttons. But even though £199.99 sounds a lot that’s actually a good deal considering how much everything would cost separately.

 

Video game Christmas gifts for kids

The games industry hasn’t been very good at catering to kids and families in recent years, but the success of the Switch has seen that situation improve greatly, with all the following titles suitable for all ages.

Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield (Switch)
Despite some controversy from hardcore fans this is a perfectly entertaining entry in the long-running series and the first on a non-portable only console. As ever, Pokémon games are sold in two separate editions, but there are only minor differences between the two – to encourage trading – and there’s no reason for most normal players to get both.

Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Switch)
Arguably the best new Switch title this Christmas, this is the best-looking game on the system and a hugely entertaining comedy adventure about Luigi’s attempts to bust a hotel infested by ghosts.

Plants Vs. Zombies: Battle For Neighborville (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
Essentially Garden Warfare 3, if you played the previous games, this is not only a very good online shooter but one that, unlike most others, is entirely suitable for children.

Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 (Switch)
Despite the huge success of the movies there are surprisingly few Marvel games around and even this one isn’t set in the Cinematic Universe. It’s close enough and while it’s extremely simplistic it’s good dumb fun, with four-player co-op options that anyone can join in with.

Dragon Quest Builders 2 (PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC)
If your kids love Minecraft then should love this very similar affair based in the Dragon Quest universe. It’s got much more of a story than Minecraft and is something of an overlooked gem from this year, although the PC version has only just been released this month.

Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
A great choice if you want your kids to be a little more creative, as not only does it contain a huge range of 2D Mario levels but you can make your own and share them with friends – which is just as much fun.

Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch)
The only kart racing game to ever rival Mario Kart, this is a remake of the old PS1 classic and really is very good. It’s also not quite full-price, and with recent shop discounts is a particular bargain at the moment.

Nintendo Labo (Switch)
Not a video game as such but a range of cardboard construction toys that work in conjunction with the Switch and are not only fun to make and play but also educational. Many of the older sets, like the Variety Kit and Robot Kit, and Vehicle Kit have money off now, although less so the more recent VR Kit.

Yoshi’s Crafted World (Switch)
Released earlier in the year and so family friendly it almost hurts. It’s not just super cute but a genuinely good game too, especially for younger kids just getting into games.

Fortnite Darkfire Bundle (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch)
Although Fortnite is free-to-play there is a new Christmas bundle that features exclusive outfits and in-game items. Fortnite is rated only for 12 ages and up though, before you consider getting it for younger kids.

 

Video game Christmas gifts for casual gamers

Exactly what constitutes a casual gamer is a matter of great debate, but for these purposes we’ve taken it to mean someone that doesn’t play that many games but is still interested in the bigger titles. Just remember to check the age rating as not all of these are family friendly.

Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
The first story-based Star Wars game for a long time isn’t directly connected to the new movie but despite a few issues it’s a generally very good action adventure, with some great lightsaber combat.

Football Manager 2020 (PC)
Just as Star Wars fans have their game so too will any football fan be desperate to get hold of the latest Football Manager – so just make sure they haven’t got it already!

Doctor Who: The Edge Of Time (PlayStation VR and PC)
If you’ve got (or are getting) a VR headset this is a must have for any Doctor Who game. Even if it falls down a bit as a game it’s full of fan service and The Weeping Angels in particular are great.

Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
A game even the most ardent non-gamer will have heard of and, as always, an obvious gift for those that enjoy games but don’t buy too many a year. Just bear in mind it is 18-rated and this year’s one is especially violent.

FIFA 20 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Switch, and PC)
The other yearly sequel that’s always a guaranteed seller – and a welcome Christmas gift. Again, the only real issue is making sure who you’re giving a copy to hasn’t already got it.

Ring Fit Adventure (Switch)
Easily the best mix of keep fit and video game, it comes with a device a bit like a Pilates resistance ring that you have to manipulate in order to attack enemies. Not only is great for those that don’t get a lot of exercise but turn up the difficulty and it can give even the most serious keep fit fan an impressively thorough workout.

Untitled Goose Game (Switch and PC)
A digital only game but one well worth looking out as it’s something everything can enjoy as you… play as a goose who’s only goal in life is to annoy everyone in a sleepy English village. It’s silly, funny, and very easy to play. There’s also rumours it’s coming to Xbox On and PlayStation 4 just before Christmas, although that’s not quite confirmed at the moment.

The Legend Of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
Almost all Nintendo games are suitable for all ages but this remake of an old Game Boy game may be a little too difficult for young kids. It’s a real joy and a great one for everyone to shout advice and suggestions at the screen while someone else plays.

Gears 5 (Xbox One and PC)
Although it’s far from perfect this is the best Xbox One exclusive of recent years and has some of the best graphics ever seen in a console game. Like all Microsoft games it is free as part of Xbox Game Pass though, so in that sense you need to be careful about giving it as a present.

Wreckfest (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
Not a game many casual gamers are likely to have heard of but an absolutely cracking demolition derby style game that’s huge entertaining even for people that don’t usually like racers.

 

Video game Christmas gifts for core gamers

If someone is really into their games they’ve probably got so much they want to play that there’s tons of obvious titles they haven’t got round to picking up yet. The games below tend to be more involved than more casual titles, although none are so arcane that they couldn’t be enjoyed by most people.

Death Stranding (PlayStation 4)
This is listed more as a warning than a recommendation as it’s a complete Marmite of a game that some love and others hate, and it’s not that easy to guess which it’ll be even if you know their usual tastes. So this is one game you really want to try and check your loved one is really interested in before you buy.

The Outer Worlds (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
A Fallout style first person role-playing, from some of the people that worked on the original games, and Fallout: New Vegas, so if you know someone that was disappointed by Fallout 4 or Fallout 76 this is a superior alternative.

Borderlands 3 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
Big, dumb, and fairly obnoxious, multiplayer fun, this has been one of the most successful online shooters of the year and as long as you bear the 18-rating in mind is sure to please any family member that enjoys that sort of thing.

Monster Hunter: Iceborne (Xbox One and PlayStation)
Capcom’s Monster Hunter: World has been a runaway hit since launch and this massive expansion is almost a separate game in its own right. If your gift recipient doesn’t have the original game though you can get both with the Master Edition, which is still priced the same as a regular game.

Control (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
Already something of a cult classic, this surreal third person action game slipped under many people’s radar earlier in the year but is perfect for those that likes their games a bit more experimental.

Outer Wilds (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
Another digital-only game, so it won’t make much of a present under the tree, but one of the best and imaginative indie titles of the year, with a very clever and charming Groundhog Day style sci-fi plot.

Astral Chain (Switch)
The Switch isn’t just for kids games and this hardcore action game from genre experts PlatinumGames is one of the best action games of the year on any format.

Devil May Cry 5 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
A successful come back for the classic hack and slash franchise, with three different playable characters and stylish action that is a lot more accessible than its reputation suggests.

Resident Evil 2 (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)
Widely regarded as one of the best games of the year, this remake of the PS1 classic was released at the start of the year and can now be found for relatively cheap. Just remember it’s very violent and 18-rated for a reason.

 

Non-games gaming gifts for Christmas

Gift cards

As much as we’ve tried to help the truth is buying video games for other people is not an easy thing, especially when so many gamers buy digital now. Some games are digital-only, and there is no boxed version, which doesn’t make for much of a present. Even so, a gift card is often the best option, especially if you’re not sure if the person you’re buying for already has a game or not.

Online stores such as Steam, PlayStation Store, Microsoft Store, and Nintendo eShop all have their own gift systems, as do stores like GAME and Amazon. Paying for Xbox Live Gold, PlayStation Plus, Nintendo Switch Online, or Xbox Game Pass is also a risk free present as even if the person has a subscription anyway they can always use your gift to extend it further.

Elite Atlas Aero headset is great for aspiring streamers

Headphones

A decent pair of headphones is always a good pick for a present, as they’re something people don’t often get around to buying themselves but are genuinely useful. A lot of them only work for one console or the other, but other than that you can’t really go wrong. Turtle Beach is always a reliable brand, with the Elite Atlas Aero headset just the thing for PC gamers and wannabe streamers – although it’s expensive at £129.99. A cheaper option is the USB Audio Enhancer, which works with any 3.5mm jack headset and gives a major boost to the sound for just £24.99.

Controllers

In the same vein as headphones, a new controller is something many gamers covet but never quite get round to. The Nintendo Pro Controller, at around £50, is close to essential for Switch owners, while the PlayStation 4 now has a wide range of differently coloured official controllers. Then there’s the Xbox Elite Controller which has just launched a new Series 2 edition, which although expensive at £160 will work with the new next gen Xbox when it’s released.

The perfect outfit for the big day (pic: Numbskull)

Christmas jumpers

You can’t go wrong with a good Christmas jumper and, for some reason, there are tons of video game-related ones. There’s a suitably disgusting looking range from Numbskull, as well as various Nintendo and Pokémon ones at the Christmas Jumper Club, plus PlayStation, Fallout, and Street Fighter. None of them are cheap, but, well, it’s Christmas.

Toys and merch

If you don’t want to get someone an actual game then as long as it’s reasonably famous you can almost guarantee be some kind of related merchandise available, from action figures to artbooks, to the inevitable Funko POP! toys. A quick search on Amazon, Forbidden Planet, or toy shops like The Entertainer or Smyths should show up plenty of options for your chosen game. Although the Lego Overwatch sets and Fortnite action figures are certain to be a particular draw this year.

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