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Dead batteries push the Playdate’s launch date to 2022

The Playdate, the unique new handheld console from Panic, just had its initial release date delayed. Via both a Twitter post and an email to pre-order adopters, the company announced that consoles set to ship out in late 2021 will now get into the hands of owners in early 2022.

Hi! If you've pre-ordered a Playdate, check your email for a copy of the "Playdate Owner's Update #1".

There's bad news (a battery tragedy means Late 2021 units are now Early 2022, see email for your timing) but also good news (Pulp+SDK release dates!!)

Thanks for reading it.

— Playdate (@playdate) November 11, 2021

The Playdate is a new handheld console that is shaping up to be something totally new. It sports a season-based game release schedule and a unique control peripheral in its crank. Its pre-orders were set to release in quarterly waves, with its first shipment now set for 2022.

Playdate cited battery issues as a reason for the delay. This issue reared its head during early shipment testing, when the team noticed that early models weren’t reaching their expected battery life.

An email from Playdate states that it “found a number of units with batteries so drained, Playdate wouldn’t power on at all — and couldn’t be charged.”

Due to that issue, Panic decided to replace all the existing Playdate batteries with new ones from a new supplier. This means that 5,000 of the consoles were shipped back to Malaysia to be given new batteries. While the delay may sting, at least the team caught the issue before actually shipping out the consoles, which would have resulted in an even greater frustration.

Those who pre-ordered a Playdate and were part of that late 2021 group will now receive their consoles in early 2022. The other groups set to receive their consoles in later quarters of 2022 will still get their consoles on previously established dates.

DeAngelo Epps
Former Digital Trends Contributor
De'Angelo Epps is a gaming writer passionate about the culture, communities, and industry surrounding gaming. His work ranges…
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Say Hello to Playdate!!
“Initially, our intention was if we sell 10,000 of these, we’ll be fine,” Maletic tells Digital Trends. “But as the project went on and got bigger and bigger and bigger, our hopes got for it as well got bigger. We had no idea what we were going to sell. We had committed to buying 30,000 from our manufacturer, so we knew we wanted to sell at least that many. Fortunately, we did; we have exceeded that number. I think we sold 20,000 In the first 20 minutes or something along those lines, so it sold really well at the beginning, and that relieved us.”
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“We’ve never tried to ship hardware like this, and by ship, I mean the literal shipping process,” he says. “That was one of the things that were concerning us because we were shipping it worldwide, which was going to be a challenge. Our biggest problem, as probably most of our customers know, is getting enough parts to build all the Playdates that we owe people. We’ve been scrambling to try and find CPUs, etc., that we can assemble into new Playdates. We have filled about half of our backlog right now, and we hope to fit complete the backlog by mid-2023 or so.”

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The Playdate's strengths 
Shipping issues aside, the Playdate impresses once it’s in your hands. The build quality is high, with the crank feeling stronger and sturdier than you might expect. It doesn’t have a backlit screen, but its small size makes it easy to take it somewhere where it’s easier to play. From there, you can start playing games. When you first get the system, two new ones are delivered each week as part of Panic’s seasonal game release structure.
It’s also easy to sideload independent games made for the system that are available on websites like As a user, the Playdate is an easy-to-understand system that can also deliver a little bit of fun whenever you decide to whip it out. Developers of all sizes seemed pretty excited about the Playdate ahead of its release. Maletic tells Digital Trends that developers’ feedback has been “pleased” with the Playdate since its launch.
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