Panic is a company that has earned a reputation for creativity and, it seems, knowing a big-selling Indie game when it sees one. It has published two games by third-parties to date - Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game; yep, those were two good picks.
Panic is also well known for the Playdate, an innovative little handheld revealed back in May 2019. As we live in an era when Nintendo no longer has a dedicated handheld department, it's a little creation of such weirdness and charm that quite a few of the Nintendo Life team are smitten. It's tiny, has a black and white screen and a crank; it will also distribute new games every week.
Since that reveal updates have been rather limited, at least in public, and the circumstances of 2020 - and the ongoing manufacturing issues affecting technology this year - won't have helped Panic when trying to launch its first piece of hardware. The wait is finally coming to an end, though, with the company releasing an update video (below) that confirms all sorts of details.
The price will now be $179USD (we'll see how things transpire in terms of shipping globally), which is a bump from $149; that said, the number of games you'll get included in the price as part of the weekly 'Season One' downloads is doubling, from 12 to 24.
The video also showcases a few teaser projects, and reveals the quirky Playdate Stereo Dock, an accessory that serves as a charging dock, speaker system and pen holder; the latter matters a great deal, of course. Also unveiled was Playdate Pulp, an easy-to-use browser-based tool that will allow anyone to develop games and transfer them to their system.
Finally, the company confirmed that pre-orders will open in July, and it won't 'sell out', however orders will be gradually fulfilled over time depending on manufacturing; the company has promised there'll be one week's notice before pre-orders go live. The first shipment of around 20,000 units is expected late this year, with orders beyond that initial batch arriving in 2022.
Plenty of detail to absorb there - let us know what you think and if you're tempted to try and pick one up!
This article was originally published by nintendolife.com on Wed 9th June, 2021.
I'm really interested in this device, it keeps getting better too.
The game development part always interested me and now with these tools it should be even easier to start... Not sure if I'll pre-order though (with all the possible nintendo stuff coming up)
I’ve been super interested in the Playdate ever since its initial reveal and I find myself seriously tempted to put my name down for one as soon as those pre-order’s go live next month. And that dock ♥️♥️♥️
Though they’ve certainly cranked the price up, which may prove a big, yellow stumbling dock for many of us!
I’ll see myself out…
I'm on the order notice.
Can't wait to get this.
Also have the Evercade Vs Premium pack pre ordered as well.
Good times coming my way..........
Just gotta play the worse game there is.
The waiting game.
@Nin10dood Ah, the dreaded Waiting Game. The worst boss battle since Ganon himself!
This looks cute and whack and charming as anything. Having just heard about it, I’ll need a little more convincing before throwing down money on yet another console, but I’ll be watching it with intrigue and wishing it every success. I’m glad oddball surprises like this are still a feature in the gaming landscape!
The game development tool is really cool too. Currently really looking forward to Game Builder Garage, and who knows, maybe it’ll kindle a flame!
This always looked gimmicky and weird (in a good way!) and right up my alley, but there's no way I see myself paying almost as much as a Switch Lite for one of these.
$179 + shipping + tax would be around $ 225-250 (depending on the local import tax rate and shipping cost) which would make the price around € 200 for the EU.
A Switch lite here starts at € 208.
I'm absolutely in love with the idea, but at that price I'm going to wait for a discount or get it used.
It looks a really interesting concept, but I can't see how they will sell many at $180.
I may never get one of these, but I’ll be interested to see how well this does. It looks like an amazing piece of hardware. Especially the crank. I’ll be keeping an eye on it.
It reminds of the idea of the Gameboy. A minimal low budget console succeeding where the technically advanced handheld failed.
@sanderev with the state of global shipping and the electronics market it's incredible that they've managed to get this out at all, more so at under $200.
Comparing it with the Switch Lite doesn't really make any sense from a commercial perspective, Nintendo can easily absorb the unbelievable cost in shipping containers at their scale, for Panic that single thing alone will have hurt, a lot.
The child in me says this is amazing and I need it. The rational adult in me says this is too expensive so I won't buy it. Which part of me will win?
I've been interested in this for a while, good to see its finally getting some updates at last. Its a pretty steep price to pay at $179, which would be around £125, plus there is tax and shipping to the UK to consider on top of that too. Hopefully the price comes down at some point, since they outright said that covid and whatnot have increased the price more than they liked, but you are getting a free 24 games in that price too so...
The little dock is neat though. The whole device is neat, absolutely love its concept. I might get one, but it is unlikely to be right at launch cus of the price. Maybe when it goes down it'll be more appealing and have a larger library that we will know if its good or not over time.
I also hope the pricing for any subsequent waves isn't too steep either. ESPECIALLY since you never know if each game you get per week is actually any good or not, it seems to be a lot of money thrown at a neat little device with some potentially great games with cool twists.
I am definitely pre ordering this , it looks really cool 😎 I’ve also preordered the new evercade VS as well , 20,000 units isn’t a huge amount and I reckon they will sell out that number
This reminds me of the Barcode Battler. Conceptually interesting, but that price.....
It's neat but a little expensive, but once they crack GameBoy emulation, count me in. Shouldn't be too long since they kept it open source on purpose. I sort of want it, but I also want to watch how it plays out before jumping in. I suppose they keep making them when they sell out, so there's no hurry.
To the ones that says this is too expensive: i don't get it.
What do you believe the cost it is? This is not a chinese rip-off console. It has it's own OS, its own games, made from scratch from indie developers. It comes with 24 games. Every system is a developer tool also. You can plug it to your pc and play there. The developer tools are free of charge. You can even develop a game on your pc and put it directly on your console.
So... console+ 24 games+ developer tools: 179$. This is expensive? I don't think so.
From niche this is now picked up by big game sites. Those 20k will sell out in 2 mins.
Will preorder though. Know one of the game developers and seeing him work on his game (daily driver with the crank as a sterring device) makes me fall in love with game once again.. more excited for this than for the switch pro..
Yes, nice, and yes intrigueing. But expensive. Generally I'd love to just see a modern gameboy equivalent. Monochrome screen with backlight, with the power of the GBA or something. Minimalist gaming. Love it.
From my perspective it looks solid, but let's be honest, for how simple and old the hardware inside is, it is very expensive.
And yes it is cool, I would like to get it but considering I live in the EU, that makes the price much more steep (above €200 euro easily with taxes, import fees, shipping).
Fun device, probably solid made, but expensive for what is inside.
Imagine a Warioware game on this thing....
@ukaskew These taxes would be similar for Nintendo. This device is overpriced. It should be $ 50 max, maybe even $ 30. Especially if you compare it to cheap emulator handhelds shipping from China.
That is cool that Lucas Pope is developing for it - he is a bit of a genius.
Enjoyed the hair transformation at 6.15.
Regarding the price - it is indeed steep but I am still half tempted. What I am not sure about is the ongoing cost. They keep mentioning Season 1 is included in the price which suggests there will be multiple seasons as part of a subscription services. How much would that cost?
That video is exactly what I’d expect it to be hipster junk dripping in that unbearable smug irreverent attitude, games don’t have any substance they remind of games on the Cybiko…
For a cheaper price you can do a lot with those Chinese handhelds including playing an near infinite amount of classic games, this thing is $179 for something that makes you say “oh how cute” a couple times before it’s chucked into a drawer only to be taken out to show a friend it’s wacky crank.
@Nin10dood the waiting game sucks, let’s play Hungry Hippos
@Oppyz666 Speaking for myself, the price is fair and I understand that small batches of high quality, custom electronics can't be made and shipped for much less than that.
However, from my point of view as a consumer, that's money that could buy anywhere from three to eight full-size Switch and/or PS4 games (Playstation Hits games are $20 apiece, and some of those can give you 100 hours of playtime in your genres of choice) that I can play on systems I own and share with my kids - vs. buying a cool little gadget with a handful of black and white gimmicky retro games in a closed ecosystem.
This is a system for collectors who have lots of money and already own everything else. It's neat, and I certainly wouldn't reject it if someone bought it for my birthday, but it's not even remotely something I'd buy myself.
It's like the cost of a really nice motorcycle vs. a Rav 4 and gas for a year. The nice bike is nice and the price is fair, but most of us (well, me at least) would be far better off buying the Toyota.
(Please don't nitpick that comparison, I have no idea how much motorcycles actually cost, but I'm sure you get the idea).
Great idea. I would like to make my own games and to experiment with the hardware a la raspberry pi or Ardunino. The fact that isn't a typical low quality game console like 150 games in 1 sold on wish but with exclusive games makes it appealing.
Like most members posting above, I'm very interested, and I would love to order one of these.....but I'm not ready to throw down the cash. Seems really cool but a bit overpriced.
I'm going to sign up for the notice just in case I change my mind.
Okay, they got me. Getting it for sure.
@JasmineDragon The positive side is that it will be open source, so there will be plenty of stuff you can probably get for free. Not to mention it will be incredibly easy to emulate GameBoy games and the likes. Getting once of these to play old school Pokemon once in a while is pretty cool.
This seems gimmicky and lacking in substance. It's worrying that they just lightly addressed the actually games that it will release with. The GAME library is the heart of any GAMING device.
They seem to be more focused on how cute the hardware is.
This is a pretty cool device, and being open source is excellent, but it just seems like such a missed opportunity to not have the crank charge the device. It would have been so cool with a device that charged itself automatically when you just played games on it as usual. Also hard to get excited without a color screen I'm afraid.
This looks amazing, the first I've seen of it.
Looks like crap.It seems it plays Wonderswan games. And it's too expensive.
This seems very interesting, but WAY overpriced. I'm not going to bet that much on it being as fun as it is cute. Not even half that price.
Definitely saving up for this. If I don't save it's either this or having rent money.
I've been waiting over a year for an update on this. I was beginning to think it may never release. Suffice it to say I'm blown away by this new information and trailer.
I think it's important to support novel innovations in whatever industry or hobby it is you're interested in whenever possible. Everything from the hardware concept to the software distribution model on this is new and different. It's exciting!
I think the REAL stars of this project is Teenage Engineering. That is a really great looking handheld. I have very little interest in the games shown.
I hope Teenage Hardware go on to work with other studios and influence hardware design for future gaming platforms. It is just so pretty.
This is soo cool. They should charge even more!
It looks very well made... hope it is, "Crank drift" anybody?
It's like playing games on a calculator
Looks and feels unique not like they are taking existing games and porting those over and it doesn't seem like they are just cheap ripoff of mobile games either. These feel like original and unique titles with unique experience especially using the crank and I'm definitely will be looking to get mine someday but for now that price point is just not for me. Glad the crank is not just for show or gimmicky and actually had some usage with these games in mind unlike the Amico which had too many features and hardly use any of them.
@gaga64 Oh wow, Hungry Hungry Hippos. One of my favorite noisy "board" games as a child, next to Pop-o-matic Trouble and Shark Attack.
When considering the price for this, I think it's fair to remember that 24 games are included. If they were sold separately for $5 each, that's $120 in value. Of course, it all depends on whether the games are fun. But, you also factor in that the games aren't available anywhere else and the crank control makes them impossible to port to other devices and be able to play them. It's definitely a niche item and not for everyone, but based on the product includes 24 games the price seems reasonable.
I fail to see how this has ANYTHING to do with Nintendo.
@Octane Not sure if this would be a good way to play Game Boy games, though. The 1-bit screen is very cool in my opinion, but playing 2-bit Game Boy games on it could be awful.
This device is very exciting in my opinion. I'd love to make my own games for it, and thankfully this supports LUA for very nice and convenient development.
Really cool but way too expensive. Gonna sit this one out sadly.
@BongoBongo good point. The subscription service model is the way of all things these days it seems. I’m not keen personally. Although this looks really fun…
This looks awesome, I've been waiting years for this.
Pretty sure I've seen some handhelds on AliExpress that look like this. Other than the software mods and some hardware differences, it looks very similar. And those were easily under $100
@Oscargungan This is such an important point. I think a lot of people are looking at the price and dismissing it before they really consider everything about it. Not only does it come with all these games and a free game creation suite but it's a niche specialty product with novel components from a new-to-hardware company during a global component shortage. With all context considered, the price is a serious bargain.
@Travisemo007 Those cheap pieces of garbage are direct rip-offs of this product. The Playdate was announced and showcased like two years ago. The Chinese handheld market immediately stole their aesthetic and shoved a crappy emulator into it. The actual Playdate has nothing to do with that industry.
@KoopaTheGamer The screen is quite a high resolution compared to the GameBoy, so it's possible to create grey-scale pixels by combining black and white. Would require some tinkering with the emulator on how it displays games, but shouldn't be too difficult I think. But what do I know?!
@Octane The technique you're referring to is called dithering and it's pretty effective for creating a gradient effect. The Playdate screen is only 1-Bit, meaning pixels are either black or white, whereas the Gameboy screen was capable of 4-Bit grayscale. Playdate games will look quite different from Gameboy games in that sense. Personally I love the 1-Bit aesthetic despite its limitations.
Very cool! I will probably buy it but not 100% sure at the moment.
I love how some people are going all "what's the point of this???" as if the idea that people just want a fun device that plays fun, unique games is unfathomable.
as for me, I'm very excited for Playdate! It's got my interest piqued in a way that hasn't been rivaled since the 3DS back in 2011. That was the most excited I've been for a game system!
@GameManAdvance Yeah, as long as the resolution is higher than the GameBoy's screen by a fair bit, this should be possible. You can even see it in the trailer, some games appear to use white, grey and black. The only issue would be getting an emulator to display it properly.
@Peteykins I know. I know! ;(
You're not buying this if you're comparing it to other consoles. You're buying it as: a subscription to exclusive games; as a piece of design; in support of a smaller developer; in hope of it offering you something truly unique and joyful. Some people here are falling into the trap of thinking that its inherent value is in the technical specs.
Not everyone thinks in this way, and that's why we have designer watches, high-end fashion, the art market etc. etc. etc.
With a price like this, you get inevitable comparisons to other beefier hardware like the 3ds. I think they should cut the price and offer the games as a separate set. This way people fork over the tolerable 120, and buy the games for 50. You're still at target price but it somehow feels more manageable. (What do you mean, it's 180 Garf....that's insa...)
Okay so 110 for the console 40 for the speaker and 40 for the games. It's now 10 bucks more expensive and somehow I would buy that sooner?!
@sanderev I agree..same here for the UK probably .. I still want one though
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