Best Gaming Gifts for the 2022 Holiday Season

Best Gaming Gifts for the 2022 Holiday Season

This story is part Gift guideour year-round collection of the best gift ideas.

Gaming consoles, gaming hardware, and new games and accessories are an easy win for the holidays. Finding exactly what you want, however, can be more difficult. Yes the PS5 from Sony is easier to buy than at any point in its two-year lifespan, but you still have to shop around a bit. The Xbox series X and S-series are generally easy to buy now, just like the Nintendo Switch OLED. If you’re looking for the absolute best gaming gift, one of these consoles is a sure hit.

Going a little further, Meta 2 Quest is still the VR headset to beat, even though Meta/Facebook has recently raised the price. New VR headsets like the PSVR 2 (for PS5) won’t arrive until next year, and Meta’s next new VR headset will be a much more expensive pro-level device, rather than a casual gaming system.

Portable Games is enjoying a renaissance in 2022, with the Nintendo Switch joined by Analogue Pocket and Panic Playdate – two retro mini-consoles that will give you classic GameBoy vibes. On the other end of the spectrum, Valve’s Steam Deck (also still hard to find) is a full-featured mini gaming PC.

For a general favorite, the $499 PlayStation 5 is for gamers who want high-level Sony-exclusive games like God of War or Horizon: Forbidden West. The $499 Xbox Series X is ideal for gamers who want an entire ecosystem of Xbox Game Pass games that work across Xbox, PC, and even tablets and phones (via cloud gaming).

Our best budget pick for a gaming console is the Xbox Series S, which does almost everything the bigger Series X does, but for $299. Another budget idea: For $49 you can get a Microsoft Xbox controller, in a variety of colors – it’s a great gift as it works on Xbox, gaming PC, iPad and iPhone, even Apple TV.

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

Xbox’s biggest perk is the excellent Xbox Game Pass subscription service, which includes many of the biggest new games, for $15/month, and also includes PC and cloud gaming.

Read our Xbox Series X review.

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The smaller, cheaper Series S version of the new Xbox plays all the same games, but outputs them at 1440 resolution, which falls 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 online games like Fortnite.

Read our Xbox Series S review.

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The Xbox controller has become the unofficial industry standard. It connects via Bluetooth, so it not only works on Xbox consoles, but also on your PC or Mac, iPhone, Android phone or iPad, and even Apple TV.

Since almost all PC games and many iOS games are already mapped to work with this controller, so it’s as close to pickup and play as a gaming accessory can get.

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For the affordable price of $50, this is still one of the most comfortable sub-$100 gaming headsets you’ll ever have strapped to your ears. Among the updates from the previous version, the Cloud Stinger 2 now features an extended frequency response at both ends, an updated headband with rotating ear cups, a more flexible mic boom and a better on-ear volume dial.

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This fourth iteration of Nintendo’s Switch hybrid handheld adds a bigger and better built-in display (now an OLED display), plus a redesigned kickstand and TV dock. For anyone looking to get started on Switch or add a second unit for home multiplayer, this is the default model to consider.

But if you’re looking for the next Zelda game, it won’t be until May 2023.

Read the Nintendo Switch OLED review.

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Taking the openness, flexibility, and scale of PC gaming and bringing it into portable form has long been a holy grail for a dedicated subset of WASD gamers. The Steam Deck is closer than anything I’ve seen to nailing this formula.

The Steam Deck is made by Valve, the company behind the hugely successful Steam online gaming store/platform, but you need to know what you’re doing before committing to the device. It’s an AMD-powered laptop running Linux (with an overlay called Steam OS), and it plays many, but not all, PC games on the Steam web store.

If you’re willing to tweak and experiment with settings, and feel comfortable with general PC gaming troubleshooting (versus the plug-and-play ease of home consoles), the Steam Deck is a fantastic gaming device.

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For anyone with a stack 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, and other retro handheld games like Sega Game Gear with adapters sold separately. A crisp color screen and battery with USB-C charging mean games play and look fantastic. A docking station sold separately can also play games on a TV screen.

Read our Analogue Pocket review.

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The Panic Playdate is tiny, yellow, has a non-backlit black-and-white screen, and plays its own unique indie games, 24 of which are included in the purchase price. The games are controlled with buttons, a D-pad and a goofy crank which is used in several games to good effect. The Playdate is adorable and weird, very experimental, and we have no idea what future games are coming. But it’s meant to be a collector’s item for handheld and indie gaming enthusiasts.

Read our Panic Playdate review.

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The Quest 2 is the easiest VR headset to use, although the starting price has dropped from $299 to $399. It’s completely self-contained, doesn’t need 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 games; it can be used for physical training, virtual theater and even VR meetings. Attention parentis, however: the user must log in to Facebook, so beware if you give it to a child.

Read our Oculus Quest 2 review.

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