It can be hard to shop for gamers if you aren’t one. Every gamer has their own particular tastes, libraries, and platforms. Get a game in the wrong genre, and you’ll disappoint them. Get the wrong version of a game, and you’ll inconvenience them. Get a game they already have, and, well, you get the idea.
Don’t despair, though. You can still get a gamer gift that’ll be appreciated, and one that’s more personal than cash or a generic gift certificate to a big-box retailer. You can also stay within your budget, which can be hard to do when most major game releases are $ 60. That’s where we come in.
If you’re shopping for a gamer, especially if you can pin down their preferred platform, these gifts are guaranteed winners. They’re broadly functional, or at least pleasantly unconventional. They’re all $ 50 or under, too, so they won’t break the bank.
Microsoft Xbox Wireless Adapter for Windows
Microsoft makes Xbox controller integration with your PC easy, thanks to universal drivers for Xbox One controllers. However, out of the box they only work with a wired USB connection, and they don’t use Bluetooth. That’s where the Xbox Adapter for Windows comes in. It lets you easily connect up to eight Xbox One gamepads (or Xbox Elite Wireless Controllers) to a PC wirelessly. It’s one of the easiest ways to set up wireless gamepad-based gaming with your PC.
Turtle Beach Atlas One
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a solid gaming headset. The Atlas One is Turtle Beach’s entry-level wired PC headset, and at $ 50 it’s a pretty strong budget contender. Its earpads are plush and have channels to reduce pressure on glasses, its microphone is clear, and it’s just comfortable to wear and use.</ziffbin>
8Bitdo SN30 Pro Wireless Controller
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a first-party wireless controller for less than $ 60, but third-party manufacturers have made some incredible gamepads in their own right. 8Bitdo’s SN30 Pro is designed to evoke the Super NES gamepad, but its dual analog sticks and four triggers mean it can work just as well with any modern 3D game.
The Bluetooth controller’s real magic is in its multiple input modes, which let it work equally well on as an XInput device for PCs, a Directinput device for Android devices, a Mac-compatible gamepad, and even a Switch wireless controller with rumble and motion sensing.
PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller
Programmable buttons and levers on the back of a gamepad are usually reserved for high-end wireless controllers. The PowerA Enhanced Wired Controller for the Xbox One and PC offers that kind of convenience for a fraction of the price. It only has two programmable buttons and its direction pad is a bit smaller than the standard Xbox One gamepad, but it’s still a functional, flexible controller for $ 30.</ziffbin>
8Bitdo SN30 2.4G Wireless Controller for SNES Classic Edition
The SNES Classic Edition is still one of the best retro game compilations we’ve seen, but it also uses a wired gamepad in 2018. Fortunately, 8bitdo has a $ 25 answer in the SN30 2.4G, a wireless SNES controller with a dongle for the NES and SNES Classic Editions (and the Wii and Wii U). It feels as solid and responsive as the original controller, and looks every bit as classic. If you’re looking for something to do with your wired SNES Classic gamepads after this replaces them, 8bitdo has a simple mod kit that turns them into Bluetooth gamepads that work with PCs, tablets, and the Nintendo Switch.</ziffbin>
Cougar Surpassion Gaming Mouse
The Cougar Surpassion gaming mouse features strong performance and customizable sensitivity with an interesting gimmick: an LCD on the bottom to show the mouse’s current DPI and polling rate. It reaches from 400 to 7,200DPI and 125 to 1,000Hz, and features colored lighting on top of everything else. Not bad for a $ 50 mouse.</ziffbin>
Digital Game Store Cards
You don’t need to pick out a game to get a thoughtful gift for a gamer. If you know the recipient’s preferred platform, you can get a specific gift card that’s both personal and functional. PlayStation Network, Steam, and Xbox Live gift cards translate directly into whatever games they want, without the need to go through their library to make sure you’re not doubling up.