Small and cheap – how much of success could Playdate have against established devices such as the ageing (and slowly abandoned…) Nintendo 3DS, the highly popular Nintendo Switch, or the iOS/Android mobiles?
Panic‘s name might not say a lot at first glance. Don’t panic (and there’s our obligatory pun out of the way…): this Portland-based company was previously the publisher of Firewatch, developed by the now Valve-owned Campo Santo, which was formed by the main people behind Telltale’s The Walking Dead’s first season’s success, namely Sean Vanaman and Jake Rodkin. This company, out of nowhere, revealed the Playdate, which seems to have been largely inspired by Nintendo major success, the Game Boy, which launched three decades ago.
The handheld, which is planned to be shipped in early 2020 (with dimensions of 74x76x9 mm), has a speciality on it – aside from the usual buttons and the D-Pad, it has a CRANK on it. It’s, according to the official Q&A, „a rotational analogue controller that flips out from the side and puts a new spin on games.” (Look at that, now they are using puns, too…) Its 2.7″ LCD display is black and white with a 400×240 resolution and no backlight. Twelve new games will launch „delivered over time, directly to the device” in the form of seasons.
This is a point of interest: twelve games, one per week, in these seasons. Amongst the indie developers, we find names such as Keita Takahashi, Bennett Foddy, Shaun Inman, Zach Gage. The games will be surprises until our device get them. If we get a Playdate during a season, our season will start when we turn it on the first time, meaning we will be out of sync. We can buy earlier games, too. If we download the game, that will stay, and it’s ours. It won’t disappear. Thus, it will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, but we don’t know anything about the CPU, the RAM, and the storage yet.
The Playdate with its custom OS is aimed to be a device between our mobiles and home consoles, and it will cost 149 dollars. At the moment, only one game was announced for it so far – it’s Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure by Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi. An interesting concept…