Software company Panic only recently moved into the gaming sphere by publishing Firewatch (in 2016) and the upcoming Untitled Goose Game. Now, they have bigger plans by releasing a new handheld device called the Playdate.
The Playdate is a highly portable device that will sell for $150. It plays games, but right now Panic is being very hush-hush about its upcoming titles. Games will arrive on the console in seasons, with Season 1 slated to have twelve different titles. The website describes these games as a mix of long, short, experiential, and traditional. These are delivered once a week "over-the-air." Players will be notified when a new game is delivered by a flashing light on their device. Right now, Panic's plan is to leave the most games unannounced and instead have players discover them when they are delivered each week.
Panic let consumers know about some of the developers they reached out to. These include Keita Takahashi, known for his work on Katamari; Zach Gage, a mobile game developer; Bennett Foddy from the eponymous Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy; and Shaun Inman, developer of The Last Rocket. The only game Panic has announced so far is Crankin's Time Travel Adventure, which is developed by Keita Takahashi and utilizes the Playdate's unique crank control to control time.
While the Playdate has a traditional D-pad and two buttons for controlling games, it also features something quite unusual for a game device: a crank. This crank flips from the side of the Playdate and can be used to control certain games. In one example on the product's official website is of Takahashi's game, and the crank moves a character forward or reverses him backwards. The crank is not used to charge the device.
The display is black-and-white and utilizes no backlight. Other inclusions in the Playdate include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, a USB-C jack, and a headphone jack.
The Playdate is slated to release some time in 2020. Pre-orders aren't up yet but you can signup for Panic's email list on the Playdate's official website where preorders will be available later this year. It'll be available for $149 with Season One included in the cost.
Quick TakeI personally can't see the Playdate taking off, but I have to commend Panic's moxy. It seems very niche and, frankly, it reminds me of the Ouya. One thing that might drive people away are the very simplistic graphics and limited control scheme of the games. I hope that the designers they have on board like Takahashi make up for it and find a unique way to use the hand crank along with its other controls.
Are you going to get the Playdate? What are your thoughts on this device? Let us know in the comments below!