Playdate, app and game designer Panic’s first attempt at hardware, finally has a fixed price and delivery date, as well as a number of surprise features that have been developed since it was announced in 2019. The tiny handheld game console costs $ 179 and will ship later this year and come with a 24-game season spread over 12 weeks. But now it also has a cute speaker dock and low-code game creation platform.
We heard about Playdate for the first time more than two years ago, were thrilled with its clean look, the funky crank control and the black and white display and have been waiting for news ever since. Panic’s impeccable design references combined with Teenage Engineering’s creative hardware chops? It will surely be a pleasure to use, but there wasn’t much more.
Now the company has revealed all the important details we were hoping for and a lot more.
We originally expected 12 games to be delivered over 12 weeks, but in the meantime they seem to have collected more titles than planned, and that initial “season” of games has expanded to 24. Nobody knows exactly what to expect from these games other than that they are Playdate exclusive and many use the crank mechanics in seemingly fun and interesting ways: turn a turntable, open a small door, perform tricks as a surfer and so on.
The team hasn’t decided how future games will be distributed, although they seem to have some ideas. Another season? One-time publications? Surely the presence of a new game on the one-man indie hit parade Lucas Pope would sell like hotcakes.
But the debut of a new lo-fi game development platform called Pulp suggests a future where self-publishing could also be an option. This neat little web-based tool allows anyone to put together a game with presets for things like controls and actions, and over time can prove to be some kind of tiny twine.
A dock accessory has also been announced, something to keep your playdate in the middle of your desk. The dock with speakers, also lemon yellow, acts as a magnetic charging station for the console and activates a kind of stationary mode with a clock and a music player (Poolsuite.fm apparently with original relaxing melodies). It even has two holes for you to stick your pens in (and Panic made a special yellow pen for this purpose too).
The $ 179 price tag might make some reluctant – it’s considerably more than a Nintendo 3DS, after all, and with the dock it probably approaches the price of a Switch. But this is not meant to be a competitor to mainstream gaming – instead, it’s some kind of anti-establishment system that picks up on craziness and offers something equally unknown and undeniably fun.
The team says there will be a week of warning before orders can be placed and that they don’t plan to close orders when stocks run out, but simply allow people to pre-order as they see fit and cancel until they get theirs Get unity. Shipping starts in late 2021, and if the 20,000 units in the first edition don’t cover that, they’ll be making and shipping more as soon as they arrive.
We hope to get one of our own to test and review, but since part of the charm of it all is the limited time release and the social aspect of discovering and sharing, we will most likely experience it along with everyone else.
(This article originally stated that Playdate will ship next month, but it actually ships later – pre-orders will start next month.)