The holidays are upon us. It’s time to start thinking about what to get your loved ones. If they’re gamers, that can be a daunting task. We buy things day one—often playing them right when the clock rolls around to midnight. How do you engage a gamer on their terms and get something that isn’t just a roundabout path to the return counter?
Playboy is here to help. From console bundles to accessories to gear, there are countless ways to make sure that gamer in your life has an awesome holiday (and knows you’re the one who made it possible—you do not want to get on a gamer’s bad side).
GO BIG WITH A CONSOLE BUNDLE
There’s never been a better time for gamers to get one of the newest Xbox or PlayStation bundles. Microsoft has a pile of different console bundles to fit just about any gamer’s needs, and even Sony is getting in on the price cut game despite the PlayStation 4’s lead in the current console race.
Microsoft has something for everyone. Special limited edition consoles themed after exclusive games like Forza Motorsport 6 and Halo 5: Guardians will satisfy racing and Halo fans. But it doesn’t nearly stop there. This year’s Rise of the Tomb Raider is getting it own bundle that includes both new Tomb Raider games, while the Fallout 4 Xbox One bundle also features a copy of Fallout 3, ensuring hundreds of hours of use off just a couple of games. Many of these bundles are out there for just $399.99 and include two or more games on top of the console and controller.
Sony has its own price drop and system bundles ready to go this year. For $349.99 you can pick up a PlayStation 4 with a copy of Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection—that’s three excellent remastered games for the price of none—or a limited edition Star Wars: Battlefront PS4 with a Darth Vader-themed controller and a copy of that game.
Nintendo has its own deals too. You’ll find it difficult to pick up a Wii U console that doesn’t feature one game or another from Nintendo’s strong lineup on the box. The official price on many of these is $299.99, though they’ve frequently been on sale since Black Friday this year for as low as $249.99 from retailers like Target, Best Buy, and Walmart.
A more industrious gamer might enjoy the Super Mario Maker Deluxe set, while a gamer frequently playing online or having friends over for some couch co-op will get endless hours form the Mario Kart 8 Deluxe set. The best value comes from the Smash Splat Special set, though—it includes Nintendo’s addictive but kid-friendly shooter Splatoon! as well as Super Smash Bros. Wii U.
On the handheld side, the Nintendo 2DS is bundled with Yo-kai Watch or Mario Kart 7 for $99, or for $219 you can grab the Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer bundle which includes the game and a New Nintendo 3DS.
SHOP SMART FOR GAMES
You can’t go wrong with straight-up games. Your gamer might not be able to pick up the game they’re aching for right away. For a more comprehensive list of what’s coming out this year, check out our fall games list. But here are a few of the biggest games that came out this year:
- Call of Duty: Black Ops III (Xbox One/PS4)
- Star Wars: Battlefront (Xbox One/PS4)
- Fallout 4 (Xbox One/PS4/PC)
- Uncharted: The Nathan Drake Collection (PS4)
- Assassin’s Creed Syndicate (Xbox One/PS4)
- Halo 5: Guardians (Xbox One)
- Super Mario Maker (Wii U)
- Rise of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One)
- Need for Speed (Xbox One/PS4/PC)
- Yoshi’s Wooly World (Wii U)
- Xenoblade Chronicles X (Wii U)
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (Xbox One/PS4(=)
- The Witcher 3 (PS4/Xbox One/PC)
- Bloodborne (PS4)
- Destiny: The Taken King (PS4/Xbox One/PS3/Xbox 360)
- Guitar Hero Live (Xbox One/PS4/mobile)
- Until Dawn (PS4)
Getting any one of those for the gamer in your life (or yourself, if that’s you) will make for a jolly holiday—just make sure they don’t already have it!
DOUBLE DOWN WITH GAMING ACCESSORIES
Your gamer already has their system of choice, whether it’s a console or a PC (or more). Why not make sure they have the best time gaming they possibly can? And maybe they can enjoy it without you having to hear it, too, if you play your cards right.
A wireless headset can go a long way toward making the experience better. Atop the heap is the Astro A50 gaming headset. Even after trying half a dozen different other wireless headsets, I still find that the A50s are the all-around best, sporting the greatest range of compatibility along with solid sound and battery life. They’re sturdy and comfortable and worth every cent of that $300 price point.
If your gamer just plays on one system, you can focus a bit more. PC gamers, for example, can check out the Corsair VOID Wireless headset for a great looking, sturdy headset with a huge range of configuration options.
Turtle Beach’s Elite 800 headsets come in flavors for both the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. They have their own charging bases with audio passthrough, meaning that you don’t have to mess with cords to use them at a moment’s notice, no matter your setup. They also sport Bluetooth so that you can listen to music, podcasts or phone calls without interrupting your game.
You could also help gamers up their game with a new controller or mouse+keyboard. If they’re still using that old two-button Dell mouse and keyboard or still sporting the factory Xbox or PS4 controller, change their game right from the basics. Companies like Corsair and Logitech make gaming-focused mice and keyboards meant to take the kind of beating gamers give their gear. Not only that, they have enough programmable buttons to change the way they play the game.
On the controller side of things, Microsoft’s Elite Wireless Controller looks like it’ll set a new standard in officially supported controllers, allowing Xbox and PC gamers alike to not only use a premium gaming controller but to customize it with sticks, paddles and a d-pad that fit their needs, as well as custom configurations to match whatever shooter, racer, or other game they’re playing.
GO BEYOND THE GAMES
We can’t play games all the time, though, can we? Well, maybe we could, but we shouldn’t. We need to give our thumbs a rest once in awhile. Plus, not everyone can afford the kind of budget a gamer needs. Games aren’t an island, and there’s all kinds of related material you can dig up for just about any game to give a gamer something else to do and get them out of the warm glow of that LCD screen.
If your gamer spent their summer talking about The Witcher 3—trust me, you’d know—then the Witcher novels by Andrzej Sapkowski are a great next step. These novels, translated from Polish, are a sort of low fantasy noir story about Geralt of Rivia, an infamous monster hunter who can put down just about any creature if the right kind of coin is offered up. Five of the seven novels have made their way across the ocean in official English translations, and aside from having spawned a massive blockbuster game series, they’re fun fantasy stories in their own right.
If the end of the world is more appealing than a whole new world, if Fallout 4 and this fall’s Mad Max game are more interesting, the Mad Max movies might be just the thing. Aside from the direct connection between the latest movie—Mad Max: Fury Road and the new Mad Max game—there’s the simple fact that movies like The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome have inspired more cultural offshoots than just about any other single piece of media. Games like Fallout might not even exist if it wasn’t for The Road Warrior. It doesn’t hurt that it’s still an excellent movie.
There are piles of novels based on the Star Wars films and Halo games, comics based off the new Tomb Raider series, and more. There are board games based many of these series as well. The list is too long to fit into one place. If your gamer has a favorite series, poke around and see what other media they’ve spawned or were inspired by, and there’s sure to be a book, movie or board game to get their attention.
THINK ABOUT THE CHILDREN
Gaming isn’t just for kids, but that doesn’t mean it’s not still for kids, too. If you have a younger gamer you’d like to spend time with, or maybe a gamer that should be spending time with their siblings/children, there are plenty of answers for that.
The easiest path is through Toys-to-Life games. Games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity, as well as Nintendo’s amiibo series to a lesser degree, let you buy small, relatively inexpensive toy statues and bring them into the game.
Disney Infinity has the best-known characters, with not only Disney characters but Marvel and Star Wars characters joining the fray as well. Skylanders is extraordinarily popular as well. Nintendo’s amiibo figures are a bit tougher to get into just because they’ve become collectors’ items so quickly, meaning that finding your gamer’s most-wanted figure might be next to impossible, but many of the most popular ones are easy to find (and the recently launched Mega Yarn Yoshi is particularly adorable). That they interact with many of Nintendo’s games, from Super Smash Bros. to Mario Maker and more, is a nice bonus.
Let’s not forget about the new LEGO Dimensions that, like Disney Infinity, brings piles of great licenses together, just like we saw in The LEGO Movie.
These games are all family friendly and are a great way to share gaming with children that might not be ready for the more realistic or demanding games yet. The buy-in price can be high to get started, as with the LEGO Dimensions $99.99 starter kit, but series like Skylanders will get you started for less than the price of a new retail game. Better yet, because these games are designed for kids, they’re still releasing on the older Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles in addition to the new consoles, meaning that starting from scratch is that much less of a burden.
TOYS FOR GAMERS
If you’re looking to spoil a gamer with a fancy figurine from their favorite series or simply find an inexpensive way to show them that you care about the kinds of things they enjoy, there are plenty of options. POP! Vinyl figures start at just $10.99 and cover everything from Fallout and Borderlands to Skyrim and more obscure characters like Hatsune Miku.
At the opposite end are things like Square Enix’s Play Arts Kai line of figures. Despite being made by the publisher of games like Final Fantasy and Tomb Raider this is a wide-ranging line, including characters from this fall’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain as well as Halo and a variety of unique takes on Marvel and DC characters. These are high-end collector’s style figures meant to be displayed, so they’ll cost a pretty penny (around $99.99 depending on where you go looking), but they’re that much better than the Ninja Turtle figures from my childhood, too.
GIVE UP WITH GIFT CARDS
Gift cards get a bad rap during gift season. People think they’re thoughtless gifts that you only get as a last resort. And sure, they can be that. But they don’t have to be.
A gift card can show the recipient that you know where they like to shop and what they like to shop for. A PC gamer might love a newegg.com or Steam gift card, while a Halo fan might appreciate an Xbox Live gift card.
Because they come in any number of prices and often with a variety of different designs, you can find something to fit just about any gamer and on any budget. You might not be able to buy them the $300 headset they’re hoping for, but you can get them that much closer to it.
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