There are a plethora of games released every week across all platforms, many of them independent of publishers and largely under the radar. It takes some creativity to get these games into the hands of gamers and software developer Panic is taking a direct approach with Playdate, a bright yellow handheld console with a black and white screen.
Is Playdate a new gaming console that will add to major competition between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft? Doesn’t seem like it is being positioned as such. Panic calls it a “celebration of the video game” on the official website, and it will celebrate the medium by giving owners of the device a new, secret game weekly after its launch. You won’t know what they are until they arrive on the device, but they have some solid developers lined up.
Panic has a history of creating Mac and iOS software over its 20-year history. The company also published Campo Santo’s Firewatch, a 2016 indie hit, and is publishing Untitled Goose Game. For Playdate, the team reached out to game designers like Keita Takahashi, Zach Gage, Bennett Foddy, and Shaun Inman.
Takahashi is the game designer behind Katamari Damacy and the upcoming game Wattam, which will be published by Annapurna Interactive. Gage created SpellTower and also worked with Vlambeer on Ridiculous Fishing. Foddy is responsible for the hilarious platformer Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy. Last but not least, Inman is the creator of the web stats application Mint and iOS titles The Last Rocket and Flip’s Escape.
It’s a solid collection of designers on paper and the first revealed title, Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure, is from Takahashi. It’s a 2D adventure that utilizes Playdate’s unique crank, which was the product of a collaboration with Teenage Engineering. From the brief clip of the game, the crank allows a player to control time by winding it backward or forward.
Playdate will cost $150 when it launches in early 2020 and the first season of content will release at no additional charge. Twelve games are planned at this time, and it is not clear how much future seasons will cost.