The best gaming gifts

We might be a year away from the PS5 and Xbox Project Scarlett, but this holiday season is still a great time to be a gamer. With hot new hardware such as the Nintendo Switch Lite, as well as tons of great games, including Gears 5 and The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening on shelves, you've got tons of options for getting the gamer on your list the perfect gift. 

Whether you're looking to pick up a controller, console, game or something special for the Fortnite addict in your life, here are the best gaming gifts you can buy now. 

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple Arcade

Apple Arcade is the perfect gift for any gamer who's typically glued to their iPhone or iPad. Apple's $5-per-month subscription service provides access to a huge library of high-quality games, from familiar franchises like Pac-Man Party Royale, Rayman Mini and Frogger in Toy Town, to unique indie experiences like Assemble with Care, What the Golf! and Grindstone. Apple Arcade games can be enjoyed across iPhone, iPad, Mac and Apple TV, and since the service can be shared with anyone in your Family Sharing plan, Arcade makes a great surprise digital gift for the younger gamer in your life.


(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

If the gamer in your life plays on Xbox One or PC, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the best gift you can give them. This $15-per-month (but frequently discounted) subscription service gets you access to a huge library of games on both platforms, including such major hits as Gears 5, The Outer Worlds, Devil May Cry 5 and Forza Horizon 4. Game Pass Ultimate also includes Xbox Live Gold, which provides access to online play on Xbox One as well as additional monthly free games. Whether you opt for the full Game Pass Ultimate package, or the PC ($5 per month) or console ($10 per month) versions, Microsoft's subscription service is the gift that keeps on giving.


(Image credit: Electronic Arts)

Apex Legends Lifeline/Bloodhound Edition

If the gamer on your list is addicted to the battle royale action of Apex Legends, the game's Lifeline and Bloodhound Editions are a great, inexpensive way to give them a fun gift to open up. These $20 packages include exclusive skins and badges for either Lifeline or Bloodhound, as well as 1,000 Apex coins for buying additional skins and cosmetics.


(Image credit: Epic Games)

Fortnite Darkfire Bundle

What do you get the Fortnite addict who's already playing Epic's popular online shooter for free? The Fortnite Darkfire Bundle is a good place to start. Packed with $80 worth of cosmetic items and available for PS4, Xbox One and Switch, this bundle includes three Legendary outfits, three Legendary Back Blings, three Rare Dual-Wielding Pickaxes, three Epic Wraps and a new Emote. Plus, it comes in a sweet box that you can wrap up and throw under the tree.


(Image credit: WB Games)

Mortal Kombat 11

Mortal Kombat 11 is one of the tightest, most content-packed fighting games out there, delivering an epic cinematic story mode, tons of dynamic single-player challenges and a robust suite of online options. This bloody brawler lets you create custom variations of your favorite fighters complete with unique gear and special moves, allowing you to rock a Scorpion, Kitana or Raiden that's truly your own. The game's stacked roster includes favorites like Cassie Cage, Noob Saibot and Shang Tsung as well as guest stars like the friggin' Terminator (with Joker and Spawn on the way soon). MK11 is the ultimate fighting game package for both competitive and casual fans, but keep it away from the kiddos on your list — this game gets really gory.


(Image credit: Capcom)

Resident Evil 2

If the gamer on your list is up for a good scare, Resident Evil 2 is a no-brainer. This stunning survival horror adventure reimagines Capcom's 1998 classic as an immersive third-person action game, with unsettling sound design and the most frighteningly detailed zombies the series has ever seen. But even with all of its modern sheen, Resident Evil 2 still retains what made the original so special, with satisfying puzzles, tense enemy encounters and boss fights, and a dense Raccoon City Police Station that's filled with scary secrets.


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8BitDo SN30 Pro+

The 8BitDo SN30 Pro+ controller blends 8BitDo's patented retro design with the kind of precision and customization that serious gamers crave. This controller offers full button remapping, stick, trigger and vibration adjustment, and assignable macros for easily pulling off long button sequences. That's all wrapped into a nostalgic design that looks like the product of a SNES controller and DualShock 4 having a baby. Even with all these features, the SN30 Pro+ is $20 cheaper than Nintendo's Switch Pro Controller, and also works great on Windows, Mac and Android.


(Image credit: Nintendo)

Ring Fit Adventure

Ring Fit Adventure isn't just a fun game, it's a great way to keep the Switch gamer in your life active. This fitness role-playing game has you perform exercises to defeat monsters, via a unique Ring-Con and Leg Strap that attach to your Switch's Joy-Cons to track your motions. On top of offering an expansive single-player campaign, Ring Fit Adventure also delivers a Quick Play mode for getting shorter workouts in. Who knew that working out could be so fun?


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SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless

The SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless is a great gaming headset regardless of where you play, but it's especially ideal for the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite. The Arctis 1 Wireless delivers crisp, cord-free gaming audio via a handy USB-C dongle, making it perfect for gaming on the go with your Switch or enjoying some tunes on your Android phone. It also works great with PC and PS4, and can be enjoyed in wired mode with your Xbox One or any other device with a headphone jack.


(Image credit: Nintendo)

Super Mario Maker 2

If the gamer on your list loves Super Mario games, why not let them make their own? Super Mario Maker 2 gives you a ton of tools for creating the Mario courses of your dreams, whether you want to make a classic NES-style adventure, a deadly speedrun challenge, a go-kart race or anything else you can think up. It also packs a full story mode with over 100 Nintendo-made levels. In addition, there are online and local multiplayer options for up to four players.


(Image credit: Sega)

Sega Genesis Mini

Sega's Genesis Mini is the best plug-and-play retro console yet, and the perfect stocking stuffer for anyone nostalgic for Sonic, Streets of Rage or just the warm glow of the early '90s. This $79 retro box packs a whopping 42 games, running the gamut from staples such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Altered Beast and Street Fighter II to deeper cuts like Strider, Shining Force and Dr. Robotnik's Mean Bean Machine. You'll also get games that were previously hard to find or not available in the states before, including Mega Man: The Wily Wars, Darius and the Genesis port of Tetris. Factor in some handy software features and two included controllers, and you've got a nostalgic games machine made with true love and attention to detail for Sega fans.


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Blue Yeti X

Got a gamer on your list who's hoping to become the next great podcaster or Twitch streamer? The Blue Yeti X is a great pickup. This high-end USB microphone offers crisp, professional sound quality, complete with a variety of recording modes for different settings and handy LED lights that let you monitor your volume. Better yet, the Yeti X is fully customizable via the Logitech G Hub app, allowing you to find the perfect vocal tone or just play with all the pretty RGB colors.


(Image credit: Microsoft)

Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2

If you're shopping for someone who takes their Fortnite, Apex Legends or Gears of War seriously, the Xbox Elite Wireless Controller Series 2 is well-worth considering. This high-end Xbox One and PC controller sports a hefty, soft-touch design built to endure hours upon hours of competitive play, with plenty of swappable components that let you mix and match thumbsticks and d-pads until you find the right fit. The Series 2's robust companion app lets you remap every button and tweak trigger and stick sensitivity to your liking, as well as store up to three custom profiles that you can switch between on the fly. It's the king of premium gamepads, and a great gift for hard-core gamers.


(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Nintendo Switch Lite

Looking to get a Nintendo Switch for a younger gamer or someone who primarily plays on the go? The $199 Nintendo Switch Lite is an excellent choice. This cheaper, dedicated handheld version of Nintendo's beloved console provides access to all of the best Switch games, including The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Fire Emblem: Three Houses, but within a more compact, travel-friendly design that comes in a trio of fun colors.


(Image credit: Sony)

PS4 Pro Modern Warfare Bundle

The PS5 may be coming next year, but it's still a great time to pick up a PS4 or PS4 Pro -- especially since all games will carry over into the next generation. This PS4 Pro bundle packs in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the brand-new reboot of Activision's beloved military shooter. That's on top of a souped-up PS4 that can play games in 4K at smoother frame rates than the base PS4 offers, while supporting 4K streaming content from popular services such as Netflix and Prime Video.


(Image credit: Arcade 1Up)

Arcade 1up Marvel Super Heroes Arcade Cabinet

Arcade 1up's miniature arcade cabinets are a great way to bring a classic arcade experience into your home without spending a fortune. The new Marvel Super Heroes model is a fun pick for Marvel fans and old-school fighting game junkies, packing three classic games in Marvel Super Heroes, X-Men: Children of the Atom and The Punisher. With authentic Sanwa buttons, dual speakers and a riser for bringing the machine to standard arcade height, the Marvel Super Heroes arcade cab will have you and your friends mashing away as Spider-Man, Captain America and Wolverine through the wee hours.


(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Alienware m15 OLED

Want to get the gamer in your life the ultimate gaming laptop? The Alienware m15 OLED should be at the top of your list. This premium battlestation packs a gorgeous OLED display that comes in both 1080p and 4K variations and can be configured with up to an Intel Core i9 CPU and Nvidia RTX 2080 graphics for playing games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Gears 5 without a sweat. All this muscle is packed into a wonderfully slim, RGB-lit chassis that’ll look as good on the road as it will in your command center.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.