Video game publisher Panic has done something that's not too common these days: announce a new video game console. The Playdate is a new handheld from the publishers of Firewatch that looks like a Nordic-designed Game Boy, but with a hand crank.
Panic is a Portland-based software company that recently stepped into video game publishing. It began with Campo Santo's Firewatch and the company will publish Untitled Goose Game later this year. In a Twitter thread announcing the Playdate, Panic revealed that as a self-funded company, it wasn't impossible to imagine products beyond just software and games.
So the company got to work on a handheld game console. The studio eventually brought product engineering darling Teenage Engineering to help with the final design. The result? A yellow slab of metal that plays games. It has a D-pad and A and B buttons, but also a small hand crank courtesy of Teenage Engineering.
The crank doesn't power the device (it's charged by USB-C) but is instead another control input for games coming to the device. Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi is one of the game developers with a game on the Playdate that specifically uses the hand crank. You can see a preview of Crankin's Time Travel Adventure below.
About those games. We reached out to some of our favorite people, like @KeitaTakahash, @bfod, @helvetica, @shauninman, and many more.— Playdate (@playdate) May 22, 2019
Here's a peek at one: Crankin's Time Travel Adventure, from Keita. It's fun and funny. pic.twitter.com/0Ibwqr5k3I
Other developers with games on the Playdate include Bennett Foddy, Zach Gage, and Shaun Inman. The Playdate has wi-fi and Bluetooth capabilities, and will download 12 new games from various creators, with one new game released each week. Playdate says these 12 games are part of season one, suggesting future seasons are in the works.
Playdate will be available for pre-order for $149 and will ship in early 2020. Pre-orders aren't live yet, but you can check the Play.Date website to sign up for a notification for when the pre-orders go live. While $149 isn't cheap, the Playdate looks to be a considered piece of design and a perfect gift for friends into game pieces that double as artware.