Playdate, the tiny handheld with a crank, is delayed to early 2021

You’ll have to wait a bit longer for Panic’s odd little handheld: In an update published today, the company announced that Playdate will slip from its original 2020 window and now ship in early 2021.

The device is the software developer’s first piece of physical hardware, a handheld with a unique crank alongside traditional buttons for controlling the device. Teenage Engineering co-designed the Playdate and it bears many of the company’s minimalistic touches in a bright, playful yellow.

Playdate with final packaging.
Image: Panic

Panic announced in March that its staff was moving to work from home and that the Malaysian factory producing the Playdate had temporarily shut down. The company says adapting to these issues ultimately led to the decision to push back the launch to 2021.

There’s good news alongside the delay, though. The hardware for the Playdate is finalized and approved by the FCC, meaning it can head into production next month. Additionally, the planned first season of games for the handheld are locked and more games have been commissioned to be included as well.

The Playdate Simulator
Image: Panic

Panic also announced Windows and Linux versions of the Playdate Simulator, a software for designing games and tinkering with the device. Since the original announcement of the handheld, Panic has claimed that every Playdate will double as a devkit, which means that anyone can use the device to develop and test games. Since the Playdate has no storefront, Panic also intends for designers of games to distribute them as they see fit.

The Playdate will be $149 and available at the official Playdate website at launch. Panic says there’ll be 20,000 Playdate units available to start, which the company believes should be enough to meet demand, and it’ll order more batches after that. In the meantime, Panic suggests you sign-up for its mailing list so you can know as soon as the Playdate is available for purchase. While you wait, you can check out our early look at the device from last year and start imagining all the ways you’ll use that crank.

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