What is Playdate?
If you associate the word playdate with an awkward meet up that your parents arranged, then you’re in luck! Playdate will take on a whole new meaning. Playdate is a compact piece of gaming hardware created by Panic with help from Teenage Engineering. This palm sized device adds a new twist for handheld gaming with included crank control. Before we get into the updates, take a look at some specs.
- Display: 400 × 240 1-bit
- Size: 76 × 74 × 9 mm
- Battery: 8 hours active
- Wireless: 802.11bgn 2.54GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
- Price: $179
- See Full Details on their Website
Catch the Full Video
The Playdate Update
On June 8th 2021, an update premiered for Playdate, giving us a look at what’s to come and some exciting new developments. And possibly most important? A timeframe for preorders! The video doesn’t waste any time and starts by showing off the first accessory.
Playdate Stereo Dock
The Stereo Dock looks like the perfect launch accessory for the handheld device. This blocky beauty does more than just match the aesthetic of the Playdate. Like it says in the name, it’s a dock to hold onto your Playdate device. Once you magnetically attach your Playdate, the dock will act as a charger and keep it powered up. Also suggested by its name, it’s a bluetooth speaker which improves the sound of the games and for playing music. Furthermore, it’s an ingenious pen holder. Why? Who knows. But I plan to use mine to keep lollipops secure.
Crank it UP
You can’t have a game system without games. Playdate has a unique delivery system where you’ll receive two games directly downloaded to the device every week. This first season of games will go for 12 weeks and is included in the purchase of the system. That means you’ll get 24 unique games created exclusively for Playdate. This is double the original amount of promised games.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Panic also announced that they will be closely partnering with Sweet Baby Inc. Sweet Baby is a narrative development company who have worked on a lot of AAA and indie projects, including one of my personal favorites, Neo Cab (you can catch our review here).
Sweet Baby Inc will be working with and mentoring two teams to promote diversity and help developers from marginalized communities. One step toward that goal has been to give each team credited and paid work. If you snag a Playdate system, you’ll get the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of their labor once the games launch at a later date. These will be Reel Steal and Recommendation Dog.
More Development Updates!
As the showcase continued, we got to look at more games on the way. Return of the Obra Dinn developer, Lucas Pope, showed off Mars After Midnight. Though it’s still in early stages of development, it looks like it utilizes the crank and will be a cute addition to the lineup of games. More games followed and look incredibly creative and fun.
Be Your Own Creator
Perhaps one of the most surprising and exciting things announced during the Playdate update was Pulp for Playdate. Pulp for Playdate is a web browser which helps novices build their own games. The site will let you draft your own Playdate game rich with music and graphics. With the push of a button you can download your game and show it off to friends and family. Not much was said about being able to share games across the Playdate community but they did mention the service will be free.
Last but Not Least
So when can we get our hands on Playdate? Not sure, but preorders are coming soon. Preorders will open sometime in July with a one week warning! At $179 you get a slick device with a bundle of games. I for one am really excited as I love handheld gaming. And to be honest, my phone just doesn’t cut it. I need those physical buttons, and the crank is a fantastic addition.
Panic also said that Playdate should sell out as they will leave orders open to ship out devices when available. With all the chip and hardware shortages, I’ll hold my breath until I have one in my hands but it’s a nice approach. One thing I liked about their video update was their candor. Throughout the presentation, each speaker came off genuine and talked about obstacles they’re facing and the reality of the world we live in. I’m excited to see what’s next for Playdate and can’t wait to crank it up!