Panic, the company behind the upcoming gaming device Playdate, hosted a YouTube livestream detailing additional information about its upcoming handheld. Playdate will feature 24 games in its first season, all of which are exclusive to the platform, and will be available for pre-order in July for $179.
Playdate was originally announced in 2019 as a big step into gaming for Panic. Originally a developer of Mac and iOS software, Panic expanded into gaming when it published hit titles like Untitled Goose Game and Firewatch. Playdate is the company’s first hardware product, and it most notably features a crank as part of its controls.
A Playdate Update video revealed a number of new details about the upcoming handheld. Panic showed off a new Playdate stereo dock, which it calls “the first Playdate accessory.” It functions as a magnetic dock, charger, and Bluetooth speaker for the handheld.
Playdate games will be released in seasons, starting with 24 games in season 1 — double the amount that the company previously announced. All season 1 games will be free to Playdate owners, and the games can be kept forever. Two games are automatically delivered every week to the handheld via Wi-Fi.
The livestream showcased very brief previews of some of season 1’s games. Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure uses the handheld’s crank accessory exclusively, Lost Your Marbles is a visual novel that involves controlling a marble’s trajectory, and Saturday Edition is a detective adventure game that appears to harken back to the days of point-and-click adventure games.
Return of the Obra Dinn creator Lucas Pope is also developing a title for the handheld called Mars After Midnight. Panic also hinted that there will be “fun surprises” for Playdate owners during the season.
Panic also announced Pulp, a game development tool similar to Bitsy. Pulp is a browser-based game maker where Playdate owners can use a GUI and a simple scripting language to create and export their own Playdate games. It will be available later this year and is free to all users.
The handheld will be available for pre-order in July for $179. A week’s notice will be given before pre-orders open, though the company plans to keep them open indefinitely.