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The Playdate is a new crank-clad handheld from  Firewatch  publisher Panic

The Playdate is a new crank-clad handheld from Firewatch publisher Panic

May 23, 2019 | By Chris Kerr

Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game publisher Panic has unveiled an experimental portable games console called Playdate. 

The striking yellow handheld was designed in partnership with synth maker Teenage Engineering, and includes a d-pad, two buttons, and a curious rotating analog crank that will be integral to controlling some (but not all) games.

Getting a bit more technical, hardware specs from Edge reveal the Playdate's seemingly retro tech is a bit more upmarket than you might imagine. The tiny handheld packs a "wonderfully sharp" 2.7 inch black-and-white screen with a resolution of 400x200, a built-in speaker that's surprising powerful, WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and a USB-C port for recharging the console's battery. 

Keen to get the most of out that unique design, Panic has been working with notable developers including Bennett Foddy (Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy), Zach Gage (Typeshift), Shaun Inman (The Last Rocket), and Keita Takahashi (Katamari Damacy) to create a slate of specialized games for the system. 

The Playdate will come with 12 titles in total at launch, each of which will be delivered to players once per week over the course of a few months. Curiously, the Playdate website explains that "all twelve games in Season One" will be free, suggesting the company intends to launch additional paid-for collections further down the line.

"Our dream is simple: that you wake up on new game day excited to see what you can play next," commented Panic, explaining the thinking behind that staggered rollout. "What are these games? Here’s the thing: we’d like to keep them a secret until they appear on your Playdate. We want to surprise you.

"Some are short, some long, some are experimental, some traditional. All are fun. When your Playdate lights up with a brand new game delivery, we hope you can’t wait to unwrap your gift."

Although a concrete launch date for the Playdate hasn't been set, Panic claims the device is on track to ship in 2020. It'll become available for pre-order later this year, and will cost $149. Those keen to be first in the queue can join a mailing list over on the Playdate website.

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