Here’s something unexpected. There’s a new gaming handheld system. It’s called Playdate and it’s made by the Panic, a publisher of developer software and also games including Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game.
This is their first foray into making hardware after 20 years of operation.
“One day we [Panic] realised: we’re self-funded, and there’s nobody to tell us what to do,” reads a tweet in the Playdate announcement thread. “Why aren’t we trying more new things?
The Playdate should be highly reminiscent of the Game Boy. It has a black and white screen with no backlight. There is Bluetooth and a 3.5mm headphone jack, however. It also has a D-pad and two face buttons plus a pause button. But the Playdate has one silly gimmick: a crank.
Oh yeah, the crank! No, it doesn't power the device. It's a flip-out rotational controller that puts a fresh spin on fun. Some games use it exclusively, some use it with the d-pad, and some not at all. pic.twitter.com/XYW97nLZKK
— Playdate (@playdate) May 22, 2019
Not only that, all Playdate games are entirely new built for the handheld, made by indie devs including Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy), Bennett Foddy ( Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy) Shaun Inman, Zach Gage and more.
The launch of Playdate will see a “season” of 12 games, with new games being added each. The device has Wi-Fi to download the new games. But the season of 12 games starts when you powered on the device- early adopters get to play the weird games that may or may not use the crank first, but everyone buying the Playdate will get them all eventually.
Also, as seen in the render on the official site, Playdate is manufactured in Malaysia. Dave Hayden of Panic confirmed this when Twitter user Az Samad tweeted of this discovery.
Yes, in Sungai Petani! Our production consultant recommended a factory he works with there, and they're a great fit for this project. We've visited a number of times over the last year and have totally fallen in love with Malaysia. Wonderful people! Incredible food!
— Dave Hayden (@davehayden) May 25, 2019
This is a wild story of a company wanted to do new things and ended up making a gaming handheld that puts Soulja Boy’s efforts to shame. And is manufactured in Sungai, Petani, Kedah, of all places.
Playdate will be available in early 2020 for $149 USD (RM642), which includes the first season of 12 games. Panic has yet to confirm which countries will it ship to just yet.