It's highly debated what movies belong in the Christmas genre, whether you’re in Die Hard’s corner or not, and the same discussion can be applied to video games when several titles take place during the holiday season—including some unlikely contenders involving zombies and sniper action.

In between the exhausting shopping sprees and abundance of family reunions, it’s important to set aside some respite and lock in escapism without losing the Christmas vibe. Not only is there a wide variety of holiday-themed video games to play during Christmas, but there are also a few deals on them happening right now.

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Become The Hero This Christmas With These Superhero Games

    Batman: Arkham Origins

    A slice of vengeance this season

    It may be the least popular of the Arkham series, but WB Games Montréal’s 2013 action-adventure game reinforces Batman’s Dark Knight moniker by offering a grounded and grungy fight for freedom as the Caped Crusader takes on Black Mask, Joker, Anarky, and more to scrape the Gotham City bounty off his name. Amazon and Walmart have multiple copies of Batman: Arkham Origins for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 (the original platforms) and Best Buy is selling the full Arkham Trilogy for Nintendo Switch at a solid price.

  • Product tile of Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales showing the web-slinger swinging on a dark background
    Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales

    Swing into the festivities with style

    $32 $50 Save $18

    Becoming Spider-Man for Christmas was experienced by every Marvel fan at least once during their childhood (and adulthood too), and with Miles Morales becoming the Gamerverse’s main web-slinger and city protector, now would be an idyllic time to experience the hero’s solo adventure in Insomniac Games’ 2020 action-adventure. Amazon and other friendly, neighborhood retailers are fully stocked on the PS5 release, and Walmart, Best Buy and Target are also handing out notable discounts on the PS4 version.

You never need an excuse to play superhero games during the holidays, but since Batman: Arkham Origins and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales both take place during the holidays, now is a great time to flex those powers. Arkham Origins’ story takes place on Christmas Eve and the game serves up a picturesque view of Gotham City decorated with colorful lights and dusted with snow. Similarly, Miles Morales’ campaign begins during Christmas, defaulting to a festive-themed New York City that spans into New Year’s Day.

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  • Product tile of three soldiers walking through a deserted road in Tom Clancy's The Division
    Tom Clancy's The Division

    Some festive, post-pandemic exploration?

    $8 $11 Save $3

    The online action-RPG, Tom Clancy’s The Division, by Massive Entertainment and Ubisoft unlocks a door into the post-apocalyptic scene by tasking a Special Agent of the Strategic Homeland Division with rebuilding Manhattan during the fallout of a viral pandemic—hopefully Covid stays in-game this year—and there’s plenty of loot to gather in the quarantine Dark Zone. Amazon and Walmart both have Xbox One copies in stock, alongside Best Buy’s Season Pass offer.

  • final fantasy 14 a realm reborn
    Final Fantasy 14

    The in-game decor is always a magical sight

    9.5 / 10

    Gamers are already drawn to the Final Fantasy franchise for its world-building, fantastical imagery, and charming characters with pristine hairstyles. However, the MMORPG Final Fantasy 14 heightens the submersion into the franchise tenfold through Eorza and the four major expansions - Heavensward, Stormblood, Shadowbringers, and Endwalker - that develop its rich story set after the Seventh Umbral Calamity. Steam’s current $35 price tag will get you the base game alongside the recent Endwalker expansion, and this edition is also available on the PlayStation Store for $45.

Tom Clancy's The Division has a drastic change of style from Miles Morales’ New York City-swing by inviting players into a devastated Manhattan instead, but since the pandemic essentially stopped time, Christmas decorations still populate the streets and building interiors, which provide some festive exploration. If you’re looking for something to escape the real-world setting, however, Eorza is your answer in Final Fantasy 14 thanks to its multiple, holiday-themed campaigns on offer throughout December that yield on-brand rewards—like the reindeer mount that soon became your companion during last year’s event.

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  • Product tile of Harry Potter: Hogwarts Legacy with a figure standing in front of Hogwarts castle
    Harry Potter: Hogwarts Legacy

    Experience the Great Hall for yourself

    $66 $70 Save $4

    Every Harry Potter fan's dream came true once Hogwarts Legacy was released, with Avalanche Software bringing the witch and wizard experience to life, allowing players to explore Hogwarts castle and the various surrounding towns and nature expanses. Flying your broom or Hippogriff around the castle grounds is a magical time in itself, and Amazon currently has a small but worthwhile 6% discount on the PS5 version and Target has a 20% sale on the Deluxe Edition for Nintendo Switch.

  • Nintendo Switch Tiles of Nintendo Mario & Link Christmas Product Banner with Link looking down at Hyrule from the sky islands
    The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

    Rito Village is particularly festive at the start

    $52 $70 Save $18

    Game of the Year contender, The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, was one of the most exciting releases in 2023, and it saw Link return to Hyrule to save Princess Zelda from Ganon's uprising. The exploration is relentless as you traverse through the different regions, and many areas cater to the festive spirit. Amazon and Target both have stock in house, but Walmart is currently selling the title with an $18 discount.

'Tis the season for another Harry Potter movie marathon and Hogwarts Legacy is the perfect accompaniment if you want the magic to never end. Since the in-game seasons change, Hogwarts is often decorated with Christmas sparkle and snowy, surrounding grounds, and the Great Hall has to be experienced at least once in person. In Tears of the Kingdom, Link can travel to a few chilly locations that greatly aid the Christmas aesthetic, including Rito Village, which is buried under snow during the beginning of the game, and a few stables dotted around the map that include a small band playing the stable theme that will give anyone the holiday bug.

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Normalize Zombie Hunting During The Festive Season

Product cover for Dead Rising 4 featuring the protagonist holding a baseball bat and camera in front of zombies
Dead Rising 4

Defend the streets with some Christmas cheer

$16 $21 Save $5

Released in 2016 by Capcom Vancouver and Microsoft Studios, this action-adventure title pits Frank West against hordes of the undead within this direct sequel to Dead Rising 3 and exploration is key within the returning open-world setting that provides endless zombie carnage alongside a photojournalism side hustle. Amazon and Walmart both have PS4 and Xbox One copies in stock, with the latter flaunting a 24% discount on Frank’s Big Package. Best Buy also has Digital downloads in stock including the Season Pass.

When we think of Santa Claus, bow-wrapped presents, and a Christmas dinner spread, battling the undead doesn’t immediately spring to mind for most, but Dead Rising 4 is a game-changer. Set within a rebuilt Willamette, Colorado, the game takes place during the holiday season, similar to The Division, the city was abandoned after the outbreak, leaving all the Christmas decorations intact. Prepare to slay elf-themed zombies and tear up the streets on your reindeer bike within the Stocking Stuffer DLC.

Nintendo Classics To Make December Cozy Or High-Octane

  • Product tile for Bayonetta 2 featuring the protagonist behind posing the game's logo
    Bayonetta 2

    An unlikely Christmas contender

    $58 $70 Save $12

    The sequel to its 2009 predecessor, Bayonetta 2, ushered in a two-player mode that already amps up the festive spirit by being able to play with friends. The 2014 hack-and-slash title from PlatinumGames and Nintendo follows the titular character's battles against angelic and demonic forces using overpowered Torture Attacks around the sacred mountain of Fimbulventr and the town of Noatun. Local retailers have the sequel in stock, but Target is selling a Bayonetta and Bayonetta 2 Digital Bundle for the Nintendo Switch for under $60.

  • Product tile for Animal Crossing: New Horizons featuring Tom, Isabelle and the islanders
    Animal Crossing: New Horizons

    An essential, cozy Christmas game to keep you company

    $51 $60 Save $9

    This social sim title from Nintendo was a lifesaver for many during the pandemic and the title’s festive game is strong every year. Released in 2020, it serves as the fifth entry in the franchise that sees players move to a desert island and build it and its society up from the ground. It quickly became the 14th best-selling game in history and kept friends and families connected through its online access, which allowed you to visit other players' islands. Amazon is currently selling the title with a 13% discount and Walmart also has an offer discounting $9.

Nintendo has a large handful of highly popular IPs that ooze the Christmas vibe way more than Bayonetta 2 on paper. However, it may surprise you to know that the festive spirit is strong in this sequel as the main story takes place over the holiday season and sees Bayonetta and Enzo indulging in some Christmas shopping. There’s even a surprise cameo from Rodin when he appears dressed as Santa Claus. Since Animal Crossing: New Horizons moves through the seasons, you can bet the in-game Christmas spirit is magical and there are a variety of festive activities and sentimental greetings to turn any Grinch into a sugar plum fairy.

Product cover of Mario Kart 8 for the Nintendo Switch
Mario Kart 8

The ultimate, competitive title for family gatherings

$50 $60 Save $10

While Nintendo fans eagerly await news about Mario Kart 9, the current title, Mario Kart 8, is the default game to play around the holidays for its time-efficient races, colorful environments and (albeit annoying) characters, and ability to bring out anyone’s competitive side. Released nearly ten years ago, with a re-released Deluxe version in 2017 to keep racers at bay, Mario Kart 8 takes players into anti-gravity sequences with karts manned by the best Super Mario characters, including the titular plumber and his brother, Luigi, Princess Peach, Bowser, Shy Guy and many more.

If you need the ultimate Christmas game to play by yourself or with friends and family, then Mario Kart 8 takes the crown. Thanks to the Booster Course Pass, there are festive tracks to partake in that scream holiday fun with courses decorated to the hilt and twinkling music to match. This is also the title to break the ice during family reunions, and it will certainly turn into a fun affair when mulled wine is involved.

Looking for more Christmas gift ideas and deals on games, consoles, accessories, and more? Then check out our other Holiday Gift Guides in 2023:

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