Video Game Hardware, Accessories Worth Buying this Holiday Season
While the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One will dominate the news cycle during the holiday season, there are plenty of other gift options that will delight gamers this year. While you can find our picks for the best holiday gaming titles here, this guide will dive into video game hardware as well as some accessories to enhance those gaming systems.
Buy This for Someone Who’s Brand New To Video Games
At this point, you really can’t go wrong with either the Xbox 360 or PS3 as a starter system for someone new to video games. Both will hit record-low prices during Black Friday—look for $200 bundles with the 250GB console and 2 popular titles—and both have an enormous library of catalog titles that are becoming cheaper by the day as the new consoles start taking over. Both are easier to pick up than PC gaming and both have a few years of life left for new game releases. Both are the perfect blend of affordability, functionality and overall value, especially when compared to the new consoles.
MSRP: $199 to $299 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $200 for 250GB bundles
- Pros: Vast gaming library, will take years to plow through. Extremely reliable hardware due to multiple revisions. Tons of players for online games. Doubles as a media center in your home theater.
- Cons: Support for both consoles will eventually die off in the next three years. New games will start becoming exclusive on the Xbox One and PS4.
Buy This for Someone Who’s New To PC Gaming
Assuming your gift recipient recently received a PC capable of playing new games, the absolutely best gift you can give is a Steam Gift Card or Wallet Code of the $20, $50 or $100 variety. The Steam Holiday sale typically starts around December 20th and runs for about two weeks. During this time, someone with a $50 Steam credit can stretch that into 5 to 15 games depending on the release date of each game. Some of the gaming packs provide even more value with 15 to 30 games rolled into one amazing deal. Make sure to read our Steam Sale guide for more tips on taking advantage of these deals.
MSRP: $20 to $100 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Games can be found at 50% to 85% off during the holiday sale. The Steam platform will be shifting more aggressively into home theater soon.
- Cons: Requires that the user has a decent gaming PC. Purchasing holiday sale titles requires extreme patience to get the best discount.
Buy This for a Gamer Who Travels all the Time
Ideal for service personal on deployment or anyone who jets around the country, the GAEMS G155 Sentry personal gaming environment bundles a 720p 15.5-inch LED display with your Xbox 360 or PS3. This allows the user to take their gaming system every place they go rather than having to rely on unknown options when they arrive somewhere. It’s also TSA-friendly, thus you can plug it up at the airport to pass the time while waiting on a flight. In addition, the dual-headphone jacks mean a friend can join in on the fun without disturbing the people around you. There’s also a more expensive 19-inch, 1080i screen option, as well.
MSRP: $249 to $349 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $180
- Pros: Has room for games, controllers, power supply and cords. Includes built-in speakers. Case locks up for security. Excellent air circulation for hot gaming systems.
- Cons: May be too heavy for a small kid to lug around. There’s no shoulder strap included. Viewing angles can be restrictive with multiple players.
Buy This for Someone Who’s Seriously Into Primetime Television
Microsoft has made no secret that the main focus of the Xbox One will be as an entertainment hub within the home theater. Vastly more impressive than the PlayStation’s 4 interface, the Xbox One user interface integrates live television programming into the console and allows users to switch between TV, games, streaming video like Netflix and other apps extremely quickly. For that reason, there’s greater value in investing in the Xbox One, assuming you are interested in those features.
MSRP: $499 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $499 w/ $75 Gift Card
- Pros: Extremely fast performance. Kinect has been improved significantly. As a media hub, it will likely be unmatched for years. Includes Skype integration for 1080p video chats.
- Cons: Gaming library is limited at launch. Requires Xbox Live subscription to unlock many features. More expensive than main competitor.
Buy This for Someone Who Can Name All the Pokémon
Definitely targeted at a young audience, the Nintendo 2DS is a durable gaming system that’s designed to introduce Mario and other characters to a new generation of gamers. It removes the 3D effect on the 3DS and becomes much safer for children to play for extended periods of time. Combine that with the latest Pokémon game that came out this fall and you will have a happy kid buried in their 2DS for hours upon hours upon hours. Did we mention Pokémon is addictive?
MSRP: $129 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Vast gaming library, due to compatibility with DS and 3DS titles. Built to withstand small kids tossing it around. Hinge-free design eliminates breakage and kids hurting their fingers.
- Cons: Games are significantly more expensive than smartphone / tablet mobile games.
Buy This for Someone Who Loves Online Gaming on Consoles
While single player games are great, the enemies littering the levels of Battlefield 4 multiplayer aren’t going to just kill themselves. Someone has to do the dirty work! If your gift recipient has an Xbox 360 or PS3, don’t hesitate to pick up a 1-year subscription card to Xbox Live or PlayStation Plus. While you don’t need a PlayStation Plus subscription for multiplayer on the PS3 (you will on the PS4), benefits like free games each month and exclusive discounts on the Sony store are awesome. The time from these cards also stack, thus your gift recipient can extend their subscription multiple years if needed.
MSRP: $50 to $60 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $40 for 1-year PS Plus, $20 for 1-year Xbox Live
- Pros: Unlocks a huge number of bonus features and perks on both systems. Completely transferable to the Xbox One / PS4.
- Cons: Required on the Xbox systems to unlock apps like Netflix. Requires patience to get the best deals on the cards.
Buy This for a Family Who Values Their Sanity
Listening to Junior play his umpteenth round of Call of Duty: Ghosts multiplayer , or any video game for that matter, on his Xbox 360 will inevitably become annoying. To silence the noise, pick up the Turtle Beach Ear Force X12 gaming headset. This rechargeable headset comes with a volume-sensitive microphone for conversations during multiplayer games as well as some noise-canceling properties. These are also useful if stuck with television speakers rather than a powerful home theater system.
MSRP: $59 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: n/a
- Pros: Excellent bass performance, includes bass-specific control. Comfortable, even when wearing regular or 3D glasses. Charges over USB.
- Cons: Limited to stereo, no virtual surround sound support. Different versions for different consoles, check before you purchase.