After decades of gathering experience in the realm of building good and up-to-date software, Panic decided to go into the hardware realm, and its first product was truly a surprise: a Game Boy-style handheld console called Playdate.
Actually, this is not the first time Panic has dipped their feet into the realm of gaming. In 2016, they had caught the eye of the public by helping to publish one of the most favorite indie games for many people, Firewatch.
However, being limited to being a publisher seems to be unable to satisfy their own desire to innovate. This is then becoming one of the motivations they decided to switch their lane and crafted Playdate.
One glance at Playdate, and you will see the shape of the Nintendo Game Boy. The shape is almost identical, with 74 x 76 mm long sides and 9 mm thickness. Half of its face is inhabited by a 2.7-inch screen with a resolution of 400 x 240 pixels.
The screen is a unique one with black and white without backlight, but the graphics shown are guaranteed to be sharp and clean, especially considering the screen is so reflective.
Turning to the controls, you can see the four-way D-Pad button and the AB button there. But Playdate still has another surprise on its right side, which is a lever or pedal that can be rotated. No, this swiveling lever is not for powering the device but is really useful as one of the control inputs.
This lever is a brilliant idea from Teenage Engineering, a Swedish synth manufacturer that is indeed one of the most famous companies in product design. Panic was fortunate enough to get a partner like Teenage Engineering in designing Playdate.
What’s interesting is that Playdate will present its game collection. Not through its own online store, but through updates that come every week for free. In total there are 12 games that have been prepared for the initial launch of Playdate, and another 12 games will be sent one by one to consumers every week.
This means that consumers will not know what kind of games will await them each week. After the game is downloaded, consumers are free to play at any time, which means that at week 12, there are 12 Playdate games that can be played at any time.
Playdate must be connected to the internet and Panic has equipped it with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB-C and headphone jack. It may be coming with a retro concept, but Playdate is still a modern handheld console.
If everything goes according to plan, Panic will market Playdate in early 2020. The price is quite affordable: $ 149, including 12 games that will be released every week.