(Update 11/26/21 4:05 pm EST): With Black Friday in full swing, we’ve updated our guide to the best video game deals we’re seeing right now. Apart from making sure all prices are up to date, we’ve added a number of good deals on gaming accessories we have tested and can recommend.
Original post (11/23/21 12:05 pm EST): Black Friday officially arrives in a few days, but many of the noteworthy deals we expect to see have already begun. We have a big roundup of the best deals we can find more generally, but today we wanted to break out a separate roundup for video game discounts, since a metric ton of them have gone live across several retailers this week.
Major retailers like Amazon, Target, Best Buy, and Walmart have already kicked off their official sales, as have the digital gaming storefronts for Xbox, Nintendo, and PlayStation. And while most of the steepest high-profile game discounts we’re seeing are for consoles, PC gaming storefronts like Steam, Epic, GOG, and Humble have kicked off their Black Friday sales as well, bringing price drops on several indie games we like in particular.
We’ve pored over as many so-called deals as we can find from all of these promotions and have listed the genuine discounts we like below, spotlighting a few particularly notable offers along the way.
Before you dig in, note that the sales haven’t made in-demand hardware like the PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Nintendo Switch OLED, or Nvidia’s newer RTX GPUs any easier to buy, though the lower-power Xbox Series S does look like it’s available in some capacity. We aren’t seeing notable discounts on many brand–new big-name games like Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl, Mario Party Superstars, Forza Horizon 5, or Battlefield 2042, either, though several well-reviewed games released earlier this year are discounted.
Either way, if you’re seeking to stuff your gaming backlog even more, have a look at our curated selection below.
Our Black Friday Coverage
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Featured early Black Friday gaming deals
A PS Plus membership is still required to play most PlayStation games’ online multiplayer modes, but being a subscriber nets you two or three “free” games a month. We’ve seen 12-month subscription codes go for a little less in the past, but either way this is a good deal for those who need to top up their membership.
Saying Game Pass Ultimate is one of the best values in gaming has become a meme at this point, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. The service pairs Xbox Live Gold—Microsoft’s equivalent to PS Plus—with access to a growing library of games for both consoles and PC, a surprising number of which are genuinely worthwhile. The service might not be worth it if you tend to play one game repeatedly for months on end, but if you like to hop from new release to new release, it’s a good deal at its MSRP, let alone this sale price.
This deal matches the best price we’ve seen on a three-month membership for new and existing subscribers. If you only use a gaming PC, though, note that Microsoft is running a promotion that gives brand-new users three months of Game Pass for PC for $1.
Nintendo Switch + Mario Kart 8 Deluxe + Nintendo Switch Online (3 months) for $299 (
$357) at Amazon, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, GameStop
This is the primary Switch bundle deal Nintendo is running across retailers this Black Friday. It’s not exactly a showstopper, pairing a five-year-old game and three months of the company’s largely inessential Switch Online service with the non-OLED version of the console at no extra cost. If you’re hoping to buy someone their first Switch, though, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is still a good time, and, if nothing else, the Switch Online trial will let them rent a bunch of classic NES and SNES games. It’s also worth noting that this bundle includes the updated version of the standard Switch with slightly improved battery life.
Breath of the Wild is another relatively old one, having launched in 2017, but it remains borderline essential for any new Switch players. It’s still not something you play for the narrative, but its contingent, freeform open world has held up remarkably well in the four years since the game’s launch.
The game was briefly available for $27 earlier in the week, but at $35, this is still about $10 less than Breath of the Wild‘s typical street price.
Time to complete: 50-100+ hours
It Takes Two is a 3D platformer that can only be played in co-op (online or local). Its rom-com-style story—in which an unhappy couple on the brink of divorce becomes trapped in the bodies of lookalike dolls made by their daughter and are forced to “fix” their relationship to go back to normal—is weird, on the nose, and surprisingly dark at points. (One level has the parents deliberately trying to make their daughter cry by killing her stuffed elephant, which makes sense in context, but… yeah.) Still, it controls well, and it’s one of the few narrative-based games that feels explicitly designed with cooperative play in mind: rarely does it force you and your partner ever to do the same thing at the same time.
It does tend to stretch its various levels’ ideas a bit past their expiration date, and while it’s never particularly difficult, I’d expect a little bickering between you and your partner if the two of you aren’t at least somewhat versed in platformers. Still, the bulk of it is fun, and at this new, low price, it’s worth a shot for any couple looking for a new game to play together. For Xbox players, note that this one is also on Game Pass.
Time to complete: 12-15 hours
One of the year’s best PS5 exclusives, Returnal is a third-person shooter with elements of roguelites and psychological horror games. You play as Selene, a space pilot trapped in a time loop on a hostile alien planet. It is a Difficult Game™, as, like most roguelites, it forces you to start from the beginning when you die. It’s hard to talk about what makes the game stand out without delving into spoilers, but let’s just say the stiff challenge makes perfect sense in context, and the whole production has an unusually keen eye for detail. Its world, mechanics, and narrative work in harmony in a way that’s uncommon to big-budget games, frequently producing moments of both extreme tension and haunting beauty.
The game had technical issues at launch, as our review noted, but after finishing it a couple months ago, I can say those issues appear to have been rectified. A recent update also added the ability to save your progress mid-run, so players no longer have to rely on the PS5’s sometimes buggy rest mode. In any event, while we briefly saw the game for as low as $30 earlier in the week, this is still a nice dip from Returnal‘s $70 MSRP.
Time to complete: 20-35 hours (highly dependent on skill)