Panic, best known for its range of developer-focused applications and its work on the story-driven walking simulator Firewatch, has announced it is getting into the console business with a novel hand-held dubbed the Playdate.
'For over 20 years Panic has mostly made Mac and iOS software. Twenty years is a long time, and we wanted to try some new things. To make the most of what we have,' the company writes by way of introducing its latest, and most interesting, project. 'That's why we started publishing games, like Firewatch and, soon, Untitled Goose Game. But what if we could push ourselves even further? What if we could build something? A real something that you could hold?'
The result of that line of thinking is Playdate, a handheld console which most definitely doesn't attempt to compete with rival devices on specifications. 'It’s yellow,' the company explains. 'It fits in your pocket. It's got a beautiful black and white screen. It's not super cheap, but not super expensive. It includes brand new games from some amazing creators. Plus it has a crank.'
Designed with a focus on indie games, the Playdate platform is interestingly episodic: The console includes access to twelve games, which are released at the rate of one per week. '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,' the company claims. '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.'
In addition to the more traditional control system - a four-way directional pad, two face buttons, plus a tertiary button to return to the home screen - a crank on the side of the console flips out to, in Panic's words, put 'a whole new spin on things.' The company has confirmed that not all games will use the crank, but that some - including one of the only confirmed games, Crankin's Time Travel Adventure - will use it exclusively.
Specifications for the device have yet to be announced, but Panic has confirmed launch pricing at $149 (around £118 excluding taxes) with the twelve 'Season One' games included. A firm launch date has not been set, beyond 'early 2020' with stock claimed to be limited.
Those interested can sign up for more information on the official website.
February 24 2020 | 12:00