Games

The ultimate Christmas gift guide for gamers

© Dale Tidy
By Marc Shaw
If you’re looking for thoughtful gifts to help improve a gamer's setup, show how well you know them, or to let you display a little love and creativity, then this is the guide for you.
It’s the season of giving, and a lot of us are looking to get something special for the gamer in our life. Shopping for gamers can be tough, as a lot of the more hardcore ones have already lined up at launch to get the latest releases and just couldn’t wait until Christmas to get their hands on whatever is hot at the time.
What is a gift buyer to do? Well, we have you covered. This is our guide to getting the best gifts for gamers. Each of the following gifts were chosen with the unique tastes of gamers in mind. If you’re looking for a more thoughtful gift instead of just skimming over new releases, then you’ve come to the right place.
Participants game at Red Bull AdrenaLAN in Toronto
Participants game at Red Bull AdrenaLAN in Toronto

Customized controllers

You may want to purchase someone a controller this year but, unless theirs is broken, or they only have one and you’re trying to suggest they play a little couch co-op with you on a snow day, it might not seem like something they need.
That’s where custom controllers come in. They may already have a controller they use consistently, but they won’t have one that looks like any of these below (especially if you take the time to pick out all your own customization options). You can tailor one specifically to who you’re buying it for, so go ahead and make them something special.
What to buy and where to buy it:
1. The official Xbox Design Lab is a great place to start if you’re looking for a controller that can be used on PC or Xbox One. Custom Controllers cost between $84.99 - $99.99 depending on whether you want Standard, Camo, or Shadow colourways. There are also some additions you can throw on like engraving the controller for $14.99, for a little extra personalization.
2. AimControllers has a bunch of customization options for both PS4 and XBOX (the controllers will work on PC through Steam as well) starting at $99.99 CAD. You can add modifications a la carte to get just the right piece of gear. The site offers everything from adding colour accents to adding controller paddles (with mappable inputs), custom cases, charge cables and even text over the PS4 controller light bar.
3. Let’s say you aren’t feeling especially creative, and would prefer unique work of an artist instead. Etsy has several artists and retailers offering a wide range of ways to customize your hardware. You can get a decal for your Nintendo Switch for as low as $13.99 or get a full on custom job starting around $120 depending on which artist you pick.
4. Let’s not forget the members of the fighting game community! The best part of carrying around a heavy fight stick or hit box is customizing all parts of it from the art, all the way down to the various parts that make it function. Paradise Arcade and Focus Attack have complete sticks starting at $149.99, but you can build your own and get them to work on any console. If you’re adventurous, you can start with a case and get all the buttons and circuit boards you need, or just get some art done if they already have a stick and you just want to help them spruce it up.

Official merch and memorabilia

Got someone who really loves a certain series of games but they already own all the games and have the next 10 years worth of releases pre-ordered? Let’s get them some merch. A lot of game companies have official stores where you can get neat pieces of memorabilia relating to several of their most popular games.
What to buy and where to buy it:
1. Final Fantasy, Nier: Automata, Tomb Raider, Xenogears. Square Enix has a wide library of published games and offer collectibles, apparel and even jewelry based on many of their titles. You can get something cool for as low as $6.99.
2. Rainbow Six: Siege players all have their favourite operators, and a quick trip to the Ubisoft store can nab them something to honour Ash, or a different, and less cool, operator of their choice for $5.99 and up. The Ubi store has products for their other games like Watch Dogs or Assassin’s Creed (check out this $999 Ezio statue) so it’s definitely worth a look.
2. Kojima Productions offer a bunch of products matched in eccentricity only by Hideo Kojima himself. Costing $19.99 and up, there are some really stylistic merch ranging from inexpensive collectibles to $330 watches and beyond.

Board games and card games based on their favourite franchises

Who said gaming has to be limited to video games? You’ve probably got a tabletop gamer in your life who wishes others would see the joy of more analog pursuits, so why not combine the love of both into one and get them a tabletop game based on a video game!
What to buy and where to buy it:
1. The Final Fantasy Trading card game is still receiving consistent support and releasing new card sets. Starting around $10.99 you can get a starter set which includes a complete deck as well as the game rules. There are also options for two player starter sets so you can start playing right away, after they open their gift.
You can use the official site’s store locator to find a store that carries starter decks near you, check Amazon, or even use dedicated card game websites like TCG Player. You can even buy just single cards from Sequence Comics if you’re trying to modify/build the perfect deck and support a Canadian store.
2. Step into the shoes of Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li, and other famous Street Fighter characters in the Street Fighter Deck Building Game. For around $70, 2-5 players can take part in a game which takes around 30-40 minutes to complete in an ever evolving game pitting the players against various bosses.
Amazon is probably your best bet if you want to get into the action.
3. War never changes, but the selection of video game based board games sure does! The Fallout Board Game lets you live out your post-apocalyptic vault dreams (or nightmares) for $74.99. Up to four players are tasked with making it through one of many Fallout inspired scenarios as they try to take over the wasteland.
Check for it on Amazon and don’t forget about the California Expansion!

Cool Accessories

What to buy and where to buy it:
1. You can go with a regular, functional mousepad, sure. But the Razer Firefly Wired Gaming Mouse Mat from the Razer Online store lights up. It costs $79.99 and features a solid design (instead of the typical soft mousepads you may be used to). If they’re into RGB, this mouse mat has programmable lights underneath it to match any aesthetic.
2. Cable/accessory management can be a nightmare. So the Cozoo Headphone with USB charger on Amazon for $24.99 offers a nice way to cut down on wasted space at a gamers' desk. In the event that their console/PC has all of its USB ports taken already, it even comes with a USB charger to give yet another outlet.
3. You can’t pull off precision moves with numb hands, so why not look into a Personal Hand Warmer from Envavo for $236? It sits on a desk right in front of the keyboard and helps to keep your digits nimble and ready to go. This is also a good idea for someone who works in an office with a fiercely guarded thermostat.
4. Do you know a travelling competitor, or someone who games when they travel? A carrying case might be just what they need to protect their hardware as they head to and from their destination.
Head to your local EB Games and check out products like this aluminum, the Legend of Zelda themed, carrying case for $32.99 or, be on the lookout for a bigger console sized case with a built in screen, for on-the-go-gaming like this one for $280.

Hard Drives

So many games, so little storage space. Luckily, for those of us who find ourselves with more games than we know what to do with, most modern consoles allow you to hook up an external drive for a much needed boost in storage. Some even let you replace the internal storage so you don’t need to carry around any extra stuff with you.
What to buy and where to buy it:
Storage solutions can be found at any retailer that carries computer accessories such as Canada Computers, and Best Buy. The key is picking the right brand. We recommend:
1. Seagate BarraCuda 2.5” 500GB Internal SSD. $96.20. This internal SSD can be installed into your Playstation 4. While the 500GB size doesn’t do anything to expand the storage space offered by the hard drive already in the PS4, the difference it creates in game load times is too good not to have it here.
2. Western Digital 4TB Passport. $99.99. This external hard drive is very sleek and portable. It’s compatible with the Xbox One, Playstation 4 and, of course, your PC. At 4TB, you’d be very hard pressed to fill it up and need another one, but let’s not shy away from a challenge.
3. Samsung EVO Plus 258GB Micro SD. $72.78. For the Nintendo Switch, you’ll need to look at Micro SD cards. Even for gamers with the most sparse libraries, the internal storage on the Switch is very small and easy to fill up, so this card will bring a much appreciated boost.

Games

Of course. What kind of gifts for gamers guide wouldn’t include a list of games? Games are the main reason we’re here, right?
What to buy and where to buy it:
All of these games can be found at your local game retailer as well as your console of choice’s online store.
Death Stranding (PS4) $79.99
The latest from famed video game director Hideo Kojima. Death Stranding offers players a unique experience. Get this one for the gamer who feels like they’ve played everything and just wants something new. It may not be for everyone, but its weird mix of social world building elements and paranormal survival should give even the most experienced gamer a different experience to what they’re used to.
Luigi’s Mansion 3 (Switch) $79.99
Any time Luigi is able to step out from behind the shadow of his older, and to be honest, less interesting, brother, it’s worthy of note. Capture ghosts across a large hotel setting and enjoy a suite of multiplayer experiences. Each level of the hotel comes with different design elements just dripping in that signature Nintendo charm.
Indivisible (PS4, PC, XBONE, Switch) $54.99
What if a fighting game developer made a role playing game? The latest from the crew at Lab Zero Games (creators of Skullgirls) tells the story of Ajna whose life takes a turn after her village is burned to the ground by the army of a warlord named Ravannanar. It combines exciting platforming elements with a deep, combo-based battle system, and is an under the radar gem.
Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order (PC, PS4, XBONE) $79.99
Developed by Respawn Entertainment (Titanfall 2), Star Wars Jedi: Fallen order, is a return to the lore and the single player action games of Star Wars’ past. If the multiplayer offerings of Star Wars Battlefront didn’t hit quite right, publisher EA has a more focused single player experience to slide under someone’s tree. Fans of old school exploration and upgrade based gameplay (think Metroid and Castlevania) should give it a look, especially if they happen to be Star Wars fans.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (PC, PS4, XBONE) $79.99
What better way to ring in the winter holidays than with the ever-present winter of Monster Hunter World’s Iceborne expansion. The expansion to 2018’s Monster Hunter World was recently released and marked the most accessible entry in the hunt and loot series’ history. Players who have yet to jump into the series don’t need to worry about going straight into Iceborne as you can buy a complete edition which comes with the base game as well as the stellar Iceborne expansion. Hunt alone or online with friends as you try to take down monsters such as the fearsome Velkhana, with the goal of turning them into a new pair of pants to help you hunt another one.