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Close-up shot, two hands holding the Playdate handheld gaming device, flipping up its protective screen
The Playdate’s case is 74 × 76 × 9mm, and has a 2.7 inch display. There’s also a crank on the side of it, which can be used as a controller in some games.
Photo: Panic, Inc.

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Pre-orders for Playdate, the tiny indie-game console with a crank, begin in July

It’s $179, comes with 24 games that launch over 12 weeks

Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

Pre-orders for Playdate, the stylish, handheld games console announced by manufacturer Panic, Inc. back in 2019, open in July. The device costs $179, the company said on Tuesday. The purchase gets you the Playdate as well as 24 games released over its first 12-week season of content.

The first units “are expected to begin shipping later this year,” Panic added.

Tuesday’s announcement also revealed the Playdate Stereo Dock, the handheld’s first accessory, although it does not yet have a price or launch date. But the Stereo Dock is a Bluetooth-enabled speaker that will store and charge the Playdate when not in use, “and, unexpectedly, can hold your pens. (It will include a pen.)”

There is also The Playdate Cover, a protective case for the device and its screen. Bundles that include a Cover may be pre-ordered for $199; the peripheral is $29 by itself.

As for the games, Panic on Tuesday named 21 of the 24. They will be released two-at-a-time every week once the Playdate launches. The games are (this list is not in chronological order of release):

  • Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure by uvula
  • Battleship Godios by TPM.CO Soft Works
  • Boogie Loops by May-Lie Khoe and Andy Matuschak
  • Casual Birder by Diego Garcia and Max Coburn
  • DemonQuest 85 by Alex Ashby, Lawrence Bishop, Duncan Fyfe, Belinda Leung, and Jared Emerson-Johnson
  • Echoic Memory by Samantha Kalma, Everest Pipkin, Carol Mertz, and Rachelle Viola
  • Executive Golf DX by davemakes
  • Flipper Lifter by Serenity Forge
  • Forrest Byrnes: Up in Smoke by Nels Anderson and Christina “castpixel” Neofotistou
  • Hyper Meteor by Vertex Pop
  • Lost Your Marbles by Sweet Baby Inc. & Friends
  • Omaze by Gregory Kogos
  • Pick Pack Pup by Nic Magnier, Arthur Hamer, and Logan Gabriel
  • Questy Chess by Dadako
  • Ratcheteer by Shaun Inman, Matthew Grimm, and Charlie Davis
  • Sasquatchers by Chuck Jordan
  • Snak by Zach Gage and Neven Mrgan
  • Spellcorked! by Jada Gibbs, Nick Splendorr, Ryan Splendorr, Tony Ghostbrite, and Em Halberstadt
  • Zipper by Bennett Foddy
  • Saturday Edition by Chris Makris, Gord McGladdery, and Alfonso Salinas
  • Whitewater Wipeout by Chuhai Labs

Tuesday’s update also said that Lucas Pope (Return of the Obra Dinn; Papers, Please) is at work on a new game for the PlayDate called Mars After Midnight.

A screenshot of Saturday Edition for Playdate
Saturday Edition
Image: Chris Makris, Gord McGladdery, and Alfonso Salinas
A screenshot of Lost Your Marbles by Sweet Baby Inc. & Friends for Playdate
Lost Your Marbles
Image: Sweet Baby Inc. & Friends
Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure by uvula for Playdate
Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure
Image: uvula

Developers can use Panic’s development kit for Playdate, called Pulp, to make and sell side-loaded games for the device; the company’s plans for publication and distribution of other titles, apart from side-loading them, later on.

Playdate has a 2.7-inch, black-and-white display on a case that measures 74 x 76 x 9 mm. It also has a quirky rotary crank on the side, which can be used in some of the games made for it (such as Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure). Playdate also includes a headphone jack and USB-C port, as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.

“The sooner you order, the sooner you’ll get one, but we’re not going to close the door on you,” Panic co-founder Cabel Sasser said in a statement. “Hopefully it’s a pleasant experience. Although surely something will go wrong, so thanks for your patience with whatever that thing is.”

Tuesday’s statement also said that Panic itself would be making “some extra surprise games along the way” for the Playdate. Panic, founded in 1997, got into publishing in 2016 with Firewatch and followed that in 2019 with Untitled Goose Game.

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