Playdate, a crank-enabled indie handheld game console, goes on sale for $179 in July

It gets mystery games over Wi-Fi, and looks like Wes Anderson designed a new Game Boy.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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Scott Stein
2 min read

Playdate has a black-and-white screen and a hand crank.


The Playdate, a long-promised black-and-white indie gaming handheld created by Panic, the developer of Untitled Goose Game, looks like it's finally going on sale soon. The $179 handheld is going to be available for preorder in July. The console's first games, which are delivered over Wi-Fi for free with the purchase of the device, were shown off in greater detail in a new video today (embedded below), along with some strange surprise accessories.

The yellow, crank-enabled Playdate looks very much like a Willy Wonka-meets-Wes Anderson Game Boy and has a similarly whimsical approach to its game library. A first season of included games, made by a variety of indie developers, will be pushed automatically to the Playdate in batches, once a week for 12 weeks, after the Playdate is released. There will be 24 games, and even though Portland-based Panic revealed some details and teases of what these games will be like, most of them are still shrouded in mystery. Developers include Zach Gage and Chuhai Labs.

The game concepts look enchanting, though, and very reminiscent of Game Boy games and bizarre Nintendo indie efforts like WarioWare. The whole thing is ridiculously charming. The Playdate's reflective black and white screen doesn't have a backlight, and a side crank is used to uniquely control many of its games, along with a D-pad and buttons.

Besides the included Season 1 games, there will also be a game-development web app that will be able to push games onto the Playdate.


The Playdate stereo dock turns it into a little desk... speaker pencil-holder?


In the video, Panic suggests that enough Playdates will be available to not sell out initially, but with no guarantees that supplies wouldn't be tight. Right now, Panic's using an email notification system to alert people about preorders a week before they happen. The handheld will also have a couple of accessories: a $29 cover to protect the screen and a weird Bluetooth speaker dock that turns the handheld into a music-playing pencil holder.