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Best Gaming Gifts for 2024

From consoles such as the Nintendo Switch OLED and PS5 to accessories and services, there's something here to spark your gamer-gifting abilities.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography | PCs and laptops | Gaming and gaming accessories
Dan Ackerman Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming
Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Lori Grunin
Dan Ackerman
8 min read
$399 at Steam
Two Steam Deck game consoles next to each other
Valve Steam Deck handheld
A handheld for PC gamers
$343 at Amazon
Xbox Series S
The cheapest Xbox option
$350 at Best Buy
Switch OLED "All Software" screen displaying games and software available
Nintendo Switch OLED handheld game console
Best of the popular Switch line
$300 at Amazon
Xbox Series X
The most expansive ecosystem
$355 at Amazon
PS5 standing on end
Sony PlayStation 5
For the exclusive minded
$52 at Amazon
Image of Xbox Core Wireless Controller
Xbox Core Wireless Controller
The universal controller
$100 at Amazon
BackBone One PlayStation Edition gaming controller
Backbone One on-phone game controller
For mobile gamers
$40 at Amazon
HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 leaning against the back cushion of a blue couch
HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 wired gaming headset
Comfy and cheap with solid sound
$349 at eBay
Oculus Quest 2
Meta Quest 2 VR headset
A great headset at a reasonable price
$230 at Amazon
Corsair K100 Air keyboard seen from above on a purple background
Corsair K100 Air wireless gaming keyboard
For work and play
$220 at Analogue
Analogue Pocket (Out of Stock)
A dream for Game Boy nostalgia

When shopping for the perfect gift for the gamer in your life, the process can be a bit overwhelming. This especially applies if you don't know the first thing about video games. Not to mention, the highly coveted gear that gamers want can be quite pricey, meaning your shopping excursion can weigh heavily on the wallet. With that in mind, we've included a bunch of options in our guide for the best gifts for gamers -- and most of them carry a hefty price tag. That may be a dealbreaker for you, but we urge you to read on as we've highlighted a group of gamer gifts for those with tighter budgets as well.

Below, you'll find tried-and-true staples like the Sony PS5, Nintendo Switch OLED and Microsoft's Xbox Series X and Series S. These are great options, but if you're indeed shopping for a video game aficionado, chances are they probably have at least one of these consoles connected to their TV right now.

Digging deeper into the gamer sphere, Meta's Quest 2 offers the best value for a VR headset, though the pricier Quest 3 is also a solid option if you want to splurge. The update to Sony's veteran PlayStation VR headset, the PSVR 2, is also great but costs as much as the PS5 that's required for use.

These flashy options are nothing without accessories like gaming headsets, mice and keyboards. While cheaper and more gift-friendly, they can still get pricey. We've plowed through a seemingly infinite number of options to find recommendations at all price levels.

Scott Stein/CNET

Valve is the company behind the hugely successful Steam online game store, and its Steam Deck handheld comes closer than anything we've seen to nailing the openness, flexibility and scale of PC gaming that devoted WASD gamers have yearned for.

Before gifting this device, make sure you know your recipient. It's a handheld AMD-powered PC running Linux (with an overlay called Steam OS), and it plays many, but not all, of the PC games on the Steam online store. As long as they're prepared to do some tweaking and experimenting with settings, and feel comfortable with general PC game troubleshooting (versus the plug-and-play ease of living room consoles), the Steam Deck is a fantastic gaming device. 

The company just launched a new, higher-end model with a larger OLED screen, bigger battery and a 1TB solid-state drive. It's more expensive than the older models, starting at $549, but it's worth it for the upgrades. You can still get the original 256GB model for $399, though. The other two original models have been discontinued, but you can buy them for $349 (64GB) or $449 (512GB) until stock runs out.

Read our Valve Steam Deck review and OLED Steam Deck review.

Lori Grunin/CNET

The smaller, cheaper Series S version of the Xbox plays all the same games, but at 1440p resolution, which lies somewhere between traditional HD and 4K. More importantly, it's great for downloading and playing the huge catalog of Xbox Game Pass games, or for free-to-play online games like Fortnite. 

There's a newer model in black with twice the storage for about $50 more, the Xbox Series S 1TB, but it's not necessary unless you specifically want to gift the black or you know your gamer keeps having to delete games because storage is tight. If you want to give the white model, you can spring for an inexpensive plug-in drive to go with it.

Read our Xbox Series S and Series S 1TB reviews.

Read our Microsoft Xbox Series X|S review.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

Console SSDs

For the heavy console gamer

Though they're not quite at stocking-stuffer prices, solid-state drives for the Xbox Series S, Series X and PS5 won't take a chunk out of your wallet the way a lot of these gifts will, starting as low as $70 for 512GB. You do need to know which console you're buying for; if you don't know and don't want to ask, you might want to pass. Xbox add-on storage plugs into the back of the consoles, while a PS5 M.2 NVMe SSD replaces the existing one and requires opening up the console. You'll want to get one equipped with a heat sink to keep things cool.

Don't confuse these devices with external hard drives for the consoles, which likely have more attractive prices. You can't run games off of those.

Scott Stein/CNET

This fourth iteration of Nintendo's Switch hybrid handheld has the biggest, best built-in display (the OLED screen in its name), plus a redesigned kickstand and TV dock. For anyone looking to give a first Switch or add a second unit for household multiplayer, this is the default model to consider. 

If you're on a tighter budget or shopping for a kid, you may want to check out the stripped-down Switch Lite. It probably won't earn the same level of excitement, but just tell them it's a placeholder for the Switch 2 that's not expected to hit stores until the year's nearly over (and hope they forget by then).

Read our Nintendo Switch OLED review.

The Xbox Series X is a powerful 4K gaming machine that works best with a similarly advanced 4K TV or monitor. The platform offers exclusives like Halo and Forza, as well as games from Microsoft-owned Bethesda, including the Fallout and Elder Scrolls games, and the recently released favorite Starfield

The Xbox's biggest advantage is the excellent Xbox Game Pass subscription service, which includes many of the biggest new games for $15 per month. It also includes PC and cloud gaming. 

Read our Xbox Series X review.

Read our Microsoft Xbox Series X|S review.

Andrew Hoyle/CNET

For exclusive games like God of War: Ragnarök, The Last of Us Part 1 and Horizon: Forbidden West, the PS5 is the way to go (although some of these games eventually make it to PCs much later on). 

Comparable to the Xbox Series X, the PS5's big advantage is its modernized, redesigned controller, which gives better haptic feedback. The PS Plus subscription service offers a big, Netflix-like catalog of monthly games, although mostly older ones. For anyone interested in VR, the PSVR 2 is a great, albeit expensive add-on. 

Look for the refreshed model, referred to by everyone but Sony as the "PS5 Slim," when you're shopping. The older ones will still be available until stock runs out, but the new model is more compact with a little more storage (1TB).

Read our PS5 review and slim PS5 hands-on.

Read our Sony PlayStation 5 review.

Lori Grunin/CNET

Gaming service subscription

Play anywhere

One of the nice things about gaming subscriptions is that you can get gift codes at reasonable prices, and if the recipient already subscribes to one, they can still use the code to pay for more time. 

For Xbox and PC gamers, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is, well, the ultimate gift, providing a large library of games and the ability to stream a lot of them on phones, low-power laptops, Chromebooks and TVs. Many are installable to a PC to play locally. One month is $17.

PlayStation Plus Premium isn't quite as expansive as Microsoft's Xbox offering, but for fans of the Sony console, it offers a library of games, cloud streaming of some older-generation games and more. One month is $18, and three months is $50.

For gamers who already have a large collection of PC games, Nvidia's GeForce Now lets them stream a growing number of them to any device that's not a PC, such as a Chromebook, Mac or phone. There are two subscription tiers for GeForce Now, Priority and Ultimate. You don't have to choose between them, since that's selected when the code is redeemed. For instance, the $20 code can be redeemed for two months of Priority or one month of Ultimate.

Dan Ackerman/CNET

The Xbox controller has become the unofficial industry standard. It connects via Bluetooth, so it works on not only Xbox consoles, but your PC or Mac, iPhone, iPad, Android phone or even the Apple TV. Since nearly every PC game and many iOS games are already mapped to work with this game controller, it's as close to pick-up-and-play as a gaming accessory can get. 

Lori Grunin/CNET

Game controllers that snap onto your phone can be a pain -- even if they attach easily, they make using your phone even briefly in portrait mode difficult -- but they're the slickest, most natural-feeling way to use a controller with your phone. Backbone's One is one of the top models, with a lot of extra software features that make it more than just a convenience.

Models are available for Android and USB-C iPhones and Lightning-connector iPhones, in both Xbox and PlayStation-standard layouts. Before buying, you should know what phone your recipient uses, because these tend to be size- and model-specific (because connectors fall in different places).

Read our Backbone One PlayStation and Xbox reviews.

Lori Grunin/CNET

This remains one of the most comfortable gaming headsets under $100 you'll ever clamp over your ears. The updated Cloud Stinger 2 now has an expanded frequency response on both ends, an updated headband with rotating earcups, a bendier boom for the mic and a better on-ear volume dial. 

Read our HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 review.

Scott Stein/CNET

Yes, the new Meta Quest 3 is better than the Quest 2, but it's also $200 more, and the Quest 2 is still a great choice. It's totally self-contained, needs no cables or external tracking cameras, and plays a pretty diverse set of games, from shooters to puzzle games to theme-park rides. And it's not just for gaming; it can be used for fitness training, virtual theatergoing and even VR meetings. 

Read our hands-on with the Quest 3.

Read our Oculus Quest 2 review.

Josh Goldman/CNET

The K100 Air is expensive for a keyboard, but it's very sleek, with responsive, ultralow-profile switches that are great for working as well as gaming. Plus, it connects to three Bluetooth devices in addition to USB and 2.4GHz wireless.

Gamers can be picky about the switches and layout of their keyboards, so you may want to feel out your recipient before going for a keyboard. Or keep the receipt -- they'll definitely be able to get what they want for the price of this one.

Read our Corsair K100 Air review.

Scott Stein/CNET

For anyone with a pile of old Game Boy games, the Analogue Pocket is a Game Boy revival dream come true. The Pocket plays Game Boy, Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance cartridges, as well as other retro handheld games, like the Sega Game Gear, with separately sold adapters. A sharp color screen and a battery with USB-C recharging mean games look and play fantastically -- and the company just added a nostalgic range of colors. A separately sold dock can play games on a TV screen, too. The Analogue Pocket is currently out of stock, but you can sign up to be notified when it comes back in stock on Analogue's website.

Read our Analogue Pocket review.

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