Want to know what the Playdate is all about? Here’s the features, games, tech specs, and more.
The Playdate is a handheld games console that’s designed to be pure fun. It’s pocket-sized, bright yellow, and has a crank on the side to control some games. Plenty of games have been developed exclusively for the Playdate, with its high-contrast screen and unique form factor.
Have you been eyeing up the Playdate and wondering whether to buy it? We’re going to tell you everything you need to know about this exciting handheld—who makes it, what games it offers, what the technical specifications are, and more.
What Is the Playdate?
The Playdate is a portable games console that fits in the palm of your hand. It’s unlike any other console on the market and it has lots of new and exclusive games.
Consider it a complementary device to the likes of the Nintendo Switch, PS5, and Xbox Series X. It’s not designed to compete with those, nor something high-end like. If you’re old enough to remember the Game & Watch, you might consider the Playdate akin to something like that.
The Playdate has a fun design. The device itself is bright yellow, while the screen is black and white and very reflective. When the console is in standby, the screen turns into a clock. On the front you’ll find a directional-pad and a couple of buttons.
But best of all? On the side of the Playdate is an actual, physical crank. The crank doesn’t charge the console. Instead, it flips out and is used to control some games.
For example, in one game called Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure, you use the crank to move the lead character back and forwards in time. Not all games use the crank, but it’ll certainly add something different to those that do.
Who Makes the Playdate?
The Playdate is made by, a software company based in Portland, Oregon. It was founded in 1999 and for a long time was primarily known for macOS software like Audion, Transmit, and Nova.
More recently, Panic has published video games, including the highly regarded Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game.
For Panic, the Playdate is the next step; production of a physical games console. The company designed it in collaboration with, a Swedish electronics manufacturer.
What Games Does the Playdate Offer?
Every Playdate comes with 24 free games, which are delivered to the system two at a time every week from when you set up the console.
Veteran developers have written these games specifically for the Playdate. Titles include Casual Birder, Pick Pack Pup, Lost Your Marbles, Sasquatchers, and Whitewater Wipeout.
More games are in development (including a title from Lucas Pope, the man behind popular games like Papers, Please), though how Panic will distribute these is currently unannounced.
Can You Develop Games for the Playdate?
If you develop games, or want to start doing so, Panic makes it as easy as possible to develop for the Playdate.
Though currently unavailable to the public, you’ll be able to get the Playdate SDK for free. This is the full Playdate development environment, available for PC, Mac, and Linux. It includes Lua and C APIs, along with a simulator for local development.
If that’s too complicated for you, Panic also plans to release something called Pulp. This is a browser-based, no-code alternative to the SDK, which lets you build games using click-and-place functionality.
There’s also going to be full reference documentation, a developer forum, a bitmap font editor for Playdate fonts, and more.
To keep abreast of the latest information, check out the.
What Are the Playdate’s Technical Specifications?
These are the technical specifications of the Playdate:
- Battery: 14 days standby clock, 8 hours active
- CPU: 180Mhz Cortex M7
- Display: 400×240 1-bit high-contrast black and white
- Size: 76x74x9mm
- Storage: 16MB RAM, 32KB L1 cache, 4GB flash
- Sound: Built-in mono speaker, stereo headphone jack, condenser microphone and TRRS microphone in
- Wireless: 802.11bgn 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
In terms of buttons and controls, on the front of the console there’s a directional-pad, A and B buttons, and a sleep and menu button. Of course, there’s also the crank on the side, which pulls out when you need it. The Playdate also has a three-axis accelerometer.
Where Can You Buy the Playdate?
If you want to, you must order directly through the .
The console costs $179, plus shipping, taxes, and duties. Because of the complications of global distribution, the Playdate only ships to certain countries, so check the store directly to see if it ships to you.
In the box you get the Playdate itself, a user guide, and a yellow USB-C to A cable (which you use to charge the console.)
You can also buy a magnetic, folding purple cover for $29. Buy this with the console and you save $9.
In the future, you’ll be able to buy a Playdate Stereo Dock. This will not only hold and charge your Playdate, but it also acts as a Bluetooth speaker and pen holder… and it even comes with a pen! That basically sums up the fun and wackiness of the Playdate.
Currently, 20,000 console units are ready to ship in 2021 (all of which have sold out), with an undisclosed amount designated for 2022. The sooner you order your Playdate, the sooner you will receive it—so don’t hesitate too long if you’re keen to get your hands on one. Panic has acknowledged there is a slight chance that some consoles will ship in 2023, and you don’t really want to be waiting that long.
There Are Plenty of Reasons to Love the Playdate
If you’re looking for a fun piece of kit that offers something unique, consider buying a Playdate. It might not revolutionize gaming, but it’s certain to bring you some joy.
Whether it’s the charming look of the console itself, the unique games, or the wacky crank, there are plenty of reasons to love the Playdate.