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Kotakus Ultimate 2023 Gift Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, after all
Kotaku<em>’</em>s Ultimate 2023 Gift Guide
Graphic: Sony / Turtle Beach / Hard Drive / Kotaku
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2023 has been one heck of a year for games. The typically slow month of January saw the launch of the critically acclaimed Dead Space remake, the shadow-drop sensation Hi-Fi Rush, and the just-fine Fire Emblem Engage. And every month since has seen a steady stream of high-profile bangers, from Like a Dragon Ishin and Tears of the Kingdom to Baldur’s Gate 3 and Alan Wake 2.

There’s just one downside to all this excellence: There’s just too much great stuff out there to choose from! So if you’re looking for a gift for a loved one, there are loads of great options to choose from at every price point. Here are our picks for the very best gamer gifts of 2023.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 PS5 Console

Image for article titled Kotaku’s Ultimate 2023 Gift Guide
Graphic: Sony / Kotaku

If you’re looking to splash out for one of your loved ones this year, and they don’t have a PS5 yet, this special-edition console is an enviable gift. It also includes a digital copy of Spider-Man 2, one of the best games of a phenomenally stacked 2023.

The white shell for the standard issue PS5 is a grime magnet, even if it just sits inside a media unit all day. This Spidey console has a bit more of a distinctive look that’s easier on the eyes, even with the customary layer of dust. It comes with a spiffy custom controller, too. –JG

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Graphic: Nintendo / Kotaku

Nintendo Switch Pro controller

Buying an extra controller for your console setup can feel a bit like buying tires for your car—awful expensive for a necessity. But if there’s a special someone on your holiday gifting list who plays a lot of time playing Nintendo Switch while docked to a TV, the Switch Pro Controller is a wonderful option. The Joy-Con holder that comes included with the console just isn’t very comfortable for longer play sessions.

At $70 retail, this controller is on the pricier end compared to wired and/or off-brand options. But the Pro Controller’s heft and solid construction feel great in your hands. Sometimes the perfect gift is something you’d love to have, but hate to buy. The Switch Pro controller fits the bill perfectly. —JG

Xbox Game Pass subscription 

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Image: Microsoft / Kotaku

It’s a cliché for a reason: Xbox Game Pass really is the best deal in games. For a monthly fee of $16.99 for PC and Console—it’s less if you opt for just one platform—you’ll get access to hundreds of games across a broad variety of genres. That includes recent releases such as Lies of P, Like A Dragon Gaiden, and Starfield, and a bunch of classic favorites like Persona 4 Golden and Fallout: New Vegas. And if you purchase multiple months in one go, you’ll likely get a substantial discount. What do you get the gamer who has everything? Everything else. –JG

Persona 5 Royal Phantom Thieves makeup collection

If you know someone who loves makeup and the Altus RPGs, this is a no-brainer.

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Graphic: Game Beauty / Atlus / Kotaku

Honestly, if they only love one or the other, Game Beauty’s Persona 5 makeup palette would still be a great gift—Persona fans would certainly consider the gorgeous packaging a collectible, as it includes gorgeous artwork of the iconic characters on each makeup item, from blushes to lipsticks and eyeshadow palettes.

And makeup fans will certainly have plenty to play with here—if you got for the full, limited edition collection,there are six different lipsticks, four blushes, five shimmery eyeshadows, two eyeshadow palettes (offering both funky and bright colors and more earthy, muted tones) and five liquid liners. This is a *collection* for sure. —AM

Dell Alienware x16

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Graphic: Sony / Kotaku

Meet the world’s most sophisticated gaming laptop, the Alienware x16, made for devoted players to perform their best while looking as sleek as possible. With an anodized aluminum body in Lunar Silver color and a suite of customizable lights, gamers can express their unique personalities on the glossiest of tech canvases.

As far as gameplay, the 16:10 aspect ratio and QHD+/FHD+ options allow users to immerse themselves in the worlds of their favorite games. Dolby Vision brings the game’s graphics to life as developers intended, with optimal color profiles exceeding traditional HDR (high dynamic range).

When it comes to audio, Dolby Atmos sound powered by six speakers allows every kick, punch, and shout to surround you. It’s the most immersive of playable interfaces in the sleekest package, weighing only 6 pounds and measuring approximately 11.5 inches deep, 14 inches wide, and an inch high. Guaranteed to be the gift any gamers in your life will be thanking you for online and IRL all year long.

Turtle Beach Stealth Pro headset

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Graphic: Turtle Beach / Kotaku

I was absolutely gutted when my older Turtle Beach headset snapped where the ear cup attaches to the headband and only projected sound through one speaker. How could I hear my enemy’s footsteps when only my right ear cup was transmitting audio?! But when Turtle Beach sent me a replacement headset, the company very kindly upgraded me to the Stealth Pro wireless headset for my Xbox Series S. As a perpetual glasses wearer and constant Overwatch player, comfort is tantamount, and the Stealth Pros are like fluffy clouds—if fluffy clouds could blast premium, spatial sound and effectively cancel out the sound of my cats play-fighting directly in front of the TV. The swappable battery system allows you to charge a spare battery pack while playing, seamlessly transitioning to a full battery whenever you need, and hooking it up to my Series S was as simple as pressing two buttons. This headset boasts a fairly hefty $329 price tag, but if you have a hardcore gamer in your life, this may be just the thing to make their holiday extra special. - AM

Elden Ring ARK/8 clothing

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Graphic: Ark8 / FromSoftware / Kotaku

I’ve always complained about the lack of fashion in video game fashion, but the Elden Ring collection from ARK/8 is here to shut me the hell up.

The collection (which ranges from $145 for a T-shirt with the boss door emblazoned on it to a $1,000 bomber jacket with an all-over Lands Between print) is head and shoulders above most game-related merch, which is so often relegated to logos printed on t-shirts or gaudy sweatshirts adorned with cartoonish characters. This feels elevated and subtle, like something you could wear out and be complimented for without a single person knowing you’re repping FromSoftware’s award-winning action RPG. Sure, it’s pricey, but if you have a fashion-loving gamer in your life, this might be the perfect holiday present for them. —AM

PlayStation Portal

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Graphic: Sony / Kotaku

I’m gonna level with you. Nobody needs a PlayStation Portal.

You already have to have a PS5 in order to use this thing, and pretty much its sole function is as a handheld second screen within the same house. But if someone near and dear to you loves gaming from the comfort of a mountainous duvet as much as I do, they will be delighted to see this frivolous bit of frippery staring back at once they tear off that wrapping paper. It’s less of a splurge than a Steam Deck, and feels a bit more fresh than starting a Switch library from scratch at the tail-end of 2023. –JG

Warby Parker x Spider-Man 2 eyeglasses

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Graphic: Warby Parker / Marvel / Kotaku

I have terrible eyesight, and I’m also incredibly picky when it comes to wearable video game merch—that’s why the Warby Parker x Spider-Man 2 collection is so special. Not only are the glasses options bold and different, with frames that stand-out from Warby’s already pretty trendy lookbook, but they feel like they’re thoughtfully connected to the in-game world Insomniac built for us to play in. Warby sent me the Miles Morales pair, a bold, black frame that feels both modern and retro at the same time. Warby Parker has reasonably priced prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses (my frame starts at $95), so they make the perfect gift for friends and family members who could use an upgrade to their eyesight (and their style). - AM

Pottery Barn Super Mario sheet set

Gaming merch has come a long way since the 1990s. These Super Mario themed bedsheets feature iconic power-ups and items from Nintendo’s classic franchise, mostly in a subtle gray and white pattern with occasional pops of color.

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Graphic: Pottery Barn / Nintendo / Kotaku

They’re appealingly subtle—at least, until the lights go down, when the stray colorful mushrooms and coins are illuminated in glow-in-the-dark green. You could totally put these bad boys beneath a perfectly respectable, grown-up duvet and most people would be none the wiser. Best of all? They come in a queen, which which is a relatively rare occurrence for kid-friendly novelties like these. –JG

Hard Drive T-shirts and hats

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Graphic: Hard Drive / Sega / Kotaku

Gaming T-shirts are a dime a dozen, but gaming T-shirts you’d actually want to wear? That’s another matter entirely. The game-news satire site Hard Drive swoops to the rescue with both subtle and unsubtle nods to our pastime. As a proud owner of the Sega Bass Fishing tee, I was pleasantly surprised just how soft and well made their shirts are—and they won’t shrink into a crop top once you throw them in the wash. (Sister site The Hard Times has some excellent punk-themed wares for your perusal as well.) And don’t sleep on the hats either: you deserve to be thanked for your service in the console war. –JG

Nintendo Switch Lite Aloha Edition

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Graphic: Nintendo

Nobody beats Nintendo when it comes to adorable, limited-time colorways for its consoles and accessories.(I would have put the Tears of the Kingdom Pro Controller earlier on this list, but sadly it is all but impossible to find unless you want to pay a premium from a reseller or buy a dubious knock-off.) If you’ve got a lot of travel or commuting ahead in 2024, the Switch Lite is tiny and has a formidable library of games. You can’t plug it into the TV, but this is a great second console—or a way to share your favorite hobby with a younger family member. This particular bundle is a pretty rare deal, by Nintendo standards. Basically, you’ll get a digital copy of Animal Crossing: New Horizons for free, along with a cute and unique design for the console itself, in either pink or teal. The Kings of Kyoto rarely put their first-party offerings on sale—and when they do, the discounts are relatively small. If I didn’t already have two Switches, I’d want this. I kind of still do. –JG