Yesterday, publisher Panic held its first showcase presentation for its upcoming handheld gaming device, Playdate. Here, we’re going to summarize all of the news that came out of the event.
The first big piece of news is that Playdate goes on sale for pre-order in July 2021. Panic will give a week’s notice before the pre-order date, and orders will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis. Orders will then be fulfilled one at a time in order, meaning that anyone getting an order in late might have to wait a long time to get their device.
Playdate is a unique handheld device that plays games on a small screen and has a crank. It’s similar to a retro handheld console, but is built specifically for new indie games from indie developers. The games will be released in seasons, with 12 coming to the console via wi-fi each season, one per week. Season 1 is different because it has 24 games, two per week for the same period.
Another announcement from the showcase covered the first accessory for the device. It’s a small dock that the Playdate latches onto. It has a speaker and specific app for playing music, charges the device, and has space to hold pens on a desk.
Panic also revealed that it will be launching a free coding kit for anyone to make games for Playdate. The kit is web-based, and you’ll be able to easily make games and add them to your console. Whether this extends to submitting them for future seasons remains to be seen.
Playdate will cost $179 at launch, and includes the first season of games for free. The dock will be extra, but no pricing has been revealed yet.
The reception to Playdate has been positive so far. The retro enthusiast community is buzzing with anticipation about it, particularly because of the retro aesthetic and the crank, which adds a level of mechanical input to every game.
However, there’s a chance that the device could flop. If it doesn’t have a consistent stream of games, or people buying the device, then it may end up going the same way as the Ouya did.