August 19, 2021
It's not very often a gaming product gets released from a company entering the space for the first time and gets this much attention. After learning more about the Playdate, it's clear why there is so much hype around.
The playdate is a new handheld device from Portland based software company Panic. It's premise is simple — enjoy a simple gaming device with a unique crank feature, while getting a new game airdropped to the device every single Friday. Keep in mind, this is no competitor to something like the Nintendo switch. It's more for the gaming enthusiasts that want a new experience, and don't mind the limitations of the hardware (a 1 bit display, and no backlight for example).
Panic didn't try to tackle the hardware design side of things themselves, instead they opted to hire Teenage Engineering to take care of it. They're known for their beautiful, simple designs, and I'm so glad they decided to bring on a team of this caliber.
This is my favorite part about the playdate — games are introduced in "seasons", and you'll be getting 2 new games every single friday for the duration of the season (12 weeks). That means you get 24 games in the first season alone, and the weekly releases almost turn them into a community wide gaming sort of book club. The launch games include
The playdate pre-order is currently available for $179, which includes the first seasons of games.
Protect your playdate on the go with a durable leather case that attaches with magnets.
How charming is this? The playdate dock not only charges the device, it's a perfect little display piece as well. Teenage Engineering have also designed a custom pen for a holder at the top, and the device acts as a bluetooth speaker as well.
The playdate ship date all depends on when you pre-ordered the device. I was able to pre-order one on launch day, and my shipment date is showing "Late 2021". If you ordered in the next batch, shipping dates are early 2022.
The team at panic has also put a ton of work into the playdate SDK (software developer kit) which will allow anyone with a playdate to create and distribute their game through a free web builder. Find more information for developers here.
The playdate has a battery life of 8 hours while gaming, and 14 days while it's in its standby clock mode.
Since the playdate games are so small, the device itself doesn't need that much storage. It contains a 4GB flash drive, and if it does manage to get full, you can always archive existing games on the system to make room for more.