Friends and family who play videogames can be tricky to buy Christmas gifts for. A new game might be the most obvious gift idea for a gamer, but do you know what genres they’re into? And are you prepared to trawl through Metacritic reviews to make sure Shrek: Hassle at the Castle isn’t a dud?
There are also those gaming gifts you’ll want to avoid slipping into their stocking. You know the stuff: the vaguely videogames-themed plastic tat, the bobble hat with a potentially trademark-violating embroidery of Mario’s face on it, the unofficial controller that closely resembles a 19th century torture device.
We’re here to help guide you in the right direction. Everything in our Christmas gift guide for gamers has been hand-picked by our crack team of videogames experts, and only includes products we’ve tried, tested and adored. These are gifts that gamers will actually enjoy for years to come (with the obvious exception of the Nintendo Switch online 12 month gift card. Put your hands down, pedants.)
Both the Xbox series X and the PlayStation 5 are sold out everywhere, so this year we’ve been sure to include gift ideas not just for those lucky enough to have grabbed a shiny next-generation console, but for gamers of all stripes, from Nintendo fans to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 players.
We’ll be testing and reviewing new gaming tech right up until up until Old Mister Claus starts doing his rounds, so check back regularly for more updates if nothing catches your eye today.
The best Christmas gifts for gamers in 2021 are:
Best for Nintendo fans – Nintendo Switch OLED: £309.99, Very.co.uk
Best for PlayStation 5 fans – Sony pulse 3d wireless headset: £89.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best for online players – Nintendo Switch online 12 month gift card: £67.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best for mobile gaming – Razer kishi: £69.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best VR headset – Oculus quest 2: £299, Currys.co.uk
Best game – Metroid Dread: £39.99, Argos.co.uk
Best SD card for Switch – SanDisk 128GB microSDXC: £19.97, Amazon.co.uk
Best soundbar – Panasonic SC-HTB01 soundslayer soundbar: £249.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best gaming headset – Turtle Beach recon 200 generation 2: £49.99, Argos.co.uk
Best gaming mouse – Logitech G203 lightsync gaming mouse: £14.99, Currys.co.uk
Best for streamers – Elgato HD60 S+ capture card: £179, Currys.co.uk
Best for home entertainment – Philips hue play HDMI sync box: £229.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best gaming microphone – Razer seiren elite microphone: £127, Amazon.co.uk
Nintendo Switch OLED
Want a new games console and can’t seem to get your hands on the PS5 or the Xbox series X? The all-new Nintendo Switch OLED is currently more readily available than both Sony and Microsoft’s next-gen machines, and it’s the must-have option for those who don’t yet have a Switch console, or prefer playing handheld or tabletop games. It has a gorgeous new 7in OLED display, an improved kickstand and a new, wider base with an ethernet port.
Is it compatible? This is an upgraded version of the existing Nintendo Switch and plays all of the existing games. Players can easily transfer all of their saved information and game purchases to the new device, so they won’t have to leave anything behind.
Buy now £309.99, Very.co.uk
Sony pulse 3d wireless headset
Sony’s pulse 3D wireless headset has been around since the PS5 was first released last year, but the company is about to release it in a sleek black colourway to match the new dualsense controller colours, and we’re absolutely in love with it. The three-dimensional audio centres you in the middle of a game while the action spins around you, and since the latest September 2021 PS5 software update, the headset has only gotten better, with Sony adding in an equaliser with presets like “bass boost” and “shooter”.
Is it compatible? These are designed to work best with the PlayStation 5, but also work on the PlayStation 4 (and the PlayStation 4 pro) as well as Mac and PC.
Buy now £89.99, Currys.co.uk
Nintendo Switch online 12 month gift card
This is the perfect gift for any Nintendo Switch gamers. Not only does it come with a 12-month membership to Nintendo Switch Online, so you can play against friends or random people around the world, but you also get £50 worth of Nintendo eShop credit, too. Your friends and family can use the £50 credit to buy any game in the store, so no disappointed looks when your loved one unwraps a present and finds a game they really didn’t want.
Is it compatible? These aren’t physical cards, but download codes that can be shared over email. They work exclusively with Nintendo consoles, and can be activated whenever the recipient wants. If they’ve already got Nintendo Online, their membership will be extended by another year.
Buy now £67.99, Amazon.co.uk
This gadget attaches to your phone to turn it into a games controller, instantly improving the experience of gaming on a mobile device. With the advent of cloud gaming too, which streams console-quality games to your laptop or phone over the web, the Razer kishi becomes a must-have accessory for anyone who wants to play their PlayStation or Xbox games remotely.
Is it compatible? The Razer kishi is a universal controller designed to work on Android, iPhone and most standard-shaped smartphones, but if you’re unsure you can find a list of compatible devices on the Razer website. Keep in mind that we’ve linked to the Android version here.
Buy now £69.99, Amazon.co.uk
Oculus quest 2
Slipping on an Oculus quest 2 virtual reality headset is like stepping into another dimension for a while. The effect is utterly convincing, transporting you to far-flung locations and placing you in centre of action-packed and immersive scenes. The two controllers act as your hands in the virtual world, meaning you can pick up any objects you see, swing swords and fire guns, while the motion tracking in the headset allows you to walk around the game as though you’re really there. The newest model finally does away with wires too, so no more getting tangled up when you get a bit too into a gunfight.
Is it compatible? You don’t need a PC or any other games consoles to use the Oculus quest 2, just a Facebook account and a phone for setting the device up.
Buy now £299.00, Currys.co.uk
The long-awaited sequel to Metroid Fusion – which launched in 2002 for the GameBoy Advance – Metroid Dread is now the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch game ever made. Play it and you’ll understand why. It’s a masterclass of level design, a side-scrolling platformer swimming in intricate detail and featuring reaction-testing combat and the best boss fights the classic series has ever seen. Critics and fans love it.
Is it compatible? Metroid Dread works on all three types of Nintendo Switch. It’s not compatible with the Xbox, PlayStation or older Nintendo consoles such as the Nintendo 3DS.
Buy now £39.99, Argos.co.uk
SanDisk 128GB microSDXC card for Nintendo Switch
As much as we love the Nintendo Switch, the built-in storage capacity for downloaded games is still way too small, even on the new Switch OLED. Worse yet, network speeds on the Nintendo Store are so painfully slow that deleting games and reinstalling them later on is an enormous pain, even with a fast internet connection. For this reason, Nintendo’s made it possible to upgrade the hard drive space of the Nintendo Switch with a microSD card, which slots into the side of the device. This official microSD card triples the console’s built-in capacity, which is plenty for most players, but 256GB and 512GB options are available too.
Is it compatible? There are three Nintendo Switch consoles – the original, the lite and the new OLED – but they all accept microSD cards, so you’re golden.
Buy now £19.97, Amazon.co.uk
Panasonic SC-HTB01 soundslayer soundbar
Panasonic’s new compact soundbar is a Dolby Atmos pocket rocket aimed at gamers and is perfectly designed to sit underneath any gaming monitor. It weighs just 1.8kg, so it’s ultra-portable. There are various equaliser preset modes for “cinema”, “music” and “standard”, but the real highlight is the “gaming” presets, which have been developed in collaboration with Final Fantasy 14’s sound engineers. There are gaming sub-presets for specific gaming genres, like first-person shooters and roleplaying games. And thanks to the soundslayer’s five speaker drivers, games sound deafeningly loud, with a surprisingly wide soundstage.
Is it compatible? The soundslayer soundbar connects via HDMI, optical and Bluetooth, so you won’t encounter any problems using it with any games console or PC setup.
Buy now £249.99, Amazon.co.uk
Turtle Beach recon 200 generation 2
We prefer gaming headsets that aren’t too garish or flashy, for the simple fact that we’d like to be able to use them during Zoom meetings without looking like an extra from Tron. The Turtle Beach recon 200 generation 2 is comfortable and reasonably priced, with a decent sounding microphone for sharing compliments with opponents online. They’re wired so they plug straight into an Xbox, PlayStation or Switch with no faffing about, and the added bass boost feature enhances sound quality.
Is it compatible? This headset works with the PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo Switch consoles. The bass boost needs a battery to work.
Buy now £49.99, Argos.co.uk
Logitech G203 lightsync gaming mouse
This nimble gaming mouse is ideal for left-handed players and players with smaller hands. It’s compact and ergonomically weighted to enhance precision while aiming, is discreet enough for everyday use, and features customisable RGB lighting around the body of the device so you can set up a secret little lightshow for your palm. Logitech is a revered name in gaming peripherals, and this budget gaming mouse doesn’t compromise on performance or comfort.
Is it compatible? A gaming mouse is traditionally used with desktop computers and laptops, but they can also be used with certain PlayStation and Xbox games.
Buy now £14.99, Currys.co.uk
Elgato HD60 S+ capture card
Want to be the next big Twitch streamer? You’re going to want to get your hands on a capture card. It allows you to capture on-screen footage from your games console, directly encoding it for playback on a livestream. We recommend Elgato’s HD60 S+ capture card, which is a simple plug and play device, so you don’t need to access the motherboard. All you have to do is connect it together using an HDMI cable, and off you go. With the HD60 S+, you’re able to stream in 1080p at 60fps. And it conveniently also works with programs like OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS and XSplit.
Is it compatible? This is the ideal gift for an aspiring YouTube or Twitch streamer, and is compatible with the PlayStation, Xbox, PC and Nintendo Switch consoles.
Buy now £179.00, Currys.co.uk
Philips hue play HDMI sync box
Plug one end of the Philips hue play HDMI sync box into your games console and the other end into your television, and you can make every Philips hue smart bulb in your house change colour to react to what’s happening in the game. It sounds tacky, but believe us when we say the effect is incredibly immersive and cinematic. Explosions make the room pulse red, lush forests reach out of the TV and turn your living room a matching shade of verdant green, and the lighting effects even work when watching movies and TV. The Play HMDI sync box works best when it’s used with play light bars or play light strips placed behind your television set.
Is it compatible? This is designed to turn your existing Philips hue smart bulb setup into a dynamic lightshow, so you’ll need all of that hardware: the Philips hue bridge and some Philips hue bulbs (or the separately sold play light bars or play light strips) for the effect to work. Other bulbs are not compatible.
Buy now £229.99, Amazon.co.uk
Razer seiren elite microphone
For aspiring YouTube stars and Twitch streamers, a good quality microphone is an essential piece of kit. The Razer seiren elite is a professional mic equipped with features designed to make broadcasting while gaming seamless. A high-pass filter cuts out background sound while a built-in limiter prevents your deafening, anguished shouts from distorting and sounding clipped. It looks smart too, easily doing double duties as your regular Zoom mic.
Is it compatible? This is a great companion for desktop PC gaming and connects via a standard USB cable. It’s compatible with Windows and Mac.
Buy now £127.00, Amazon.co.uk
The verdict: Christmas gifts for gamers
In the absence of this year’s must-have PlayStation 5 and Xbox series X consoles – which are both sold out and likely will be until 2022 – the new Nintendo Switch OLED comfortably slips into pole position in our list of the best gaming gifts for Christmas 2021.
But there are plenty of other great ideas for friends and family, from the newest Turtle Beach gaming headset to an official SanDisk SD card to boost the number of games that can be downloaded and stored on a Nintendo Switch. A 12-month subscription to Nintendo Online is guaranteed to be a hit with Nintendo gamers too – and as it’s a download code rather than a physical product, it’s environmentally friendly.
Still not sure what to get the gamer in your life? Come back again soon for more great gift ideas. We’ll be updating our list as we approach the festive season with tried and tested gaming accessories and new releases we love.
For the latest discounts on the best bits of tech and other Christmas presents, try the links below:
Want to have a great countdown to Christmas? Have a read of our reviews of the best advent calendarsInternet Explorer Channel Network