The cute retro-style handheld console with a crank, the Playdate, is going to miss its original 2020 release date and will instead ship in early 2021 according to an update from its maker Panic. The company said that challenges involving the COVID-19 pandemic had affected its supply chain and that ultimately led them to push the device’s release date back.
For those not familiar, the Playdate is a handheld console that runs black-and-white 2-bit games on a 2.7” screen. The device garnered a lot of attention when it was first announced in 2019 due to its unique hand-crank controller that sat alongside traditional buttons for controlling the device.
Last year, Malaysian musician Az Samad tweeted to the company asking if the handheld console was made in Malaysia after discovering a “Made in Malaysia” label on the back. Dave Hayden an engineer from Panic responded and confirmed the Playdate was being made in a factory in Sungai Petani, Kedah.
However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the production of the first batch of Playdate consoles was disrupted as the factory had to be temporarily shutdown during the Movement Control Order (MCO).
There is, however, some good news. Panic stated that the hardware for the device has been finalised and approved by the US’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This would allow them to start production as soon as next month.
In Panic’s October 2020 update, the company said that Steven, one of its US-based manufacturing specialists has travelled to Malaysia to help supervise the mass production of the handheld console. The post elaborated that Steven’s journey was not without its share of challenges as it required three months of paperwork, days of tenuous travel and a two-week mandatory quarantine upon arriving in the country.
According to Panic, the company said there will be 12 original games made for the handheld console. It has kept a tight lid on what those games are but among them is Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure by Keita Takahashi (the creative mind behind the game Katamari Damacy). The company explained that the Playdate’s crank flips out on the side and acts as a rotating analogue controller that literally puts a new spin on games. It also hinted that games for the Playdate will be of varying length with some requiring the crank while others don’t need it at all.
The Playdate is set to sold at USD149 (~RM620) and is available via its official website. Panic assured that they won’t demand customers to pay upfront, instead they will wait until the product is complete and ready to be shipped. The company added that it will start taking orders in early 2021.
To date, Panic said it has 20,000 Playdates in stock for its first batch which it believes to be enough to meet the initial demand.