December 2019 Update
Hello again. Here’s an update on how Playdate is coming along!
Quick summary: things are moving fast, Playdate will still ship in 2020, we’re doing a run of devices right now exclusively for developers, after which we’ll give you a heads up and begin taking orders.
On the hardware front, we’ve passed a few milestones. We adjusted our circuit board design to pass various RF emissions tests, and we’re passing, which is a relief.
We also engineered a brand new crank using an all metal-to-metal contact on the bearing surfaces. It’ll be stronger, more reliable, and serviceable with just a hex screwdriver.
That means that, barring surprises, the hardware is ready.
So, we’re announcing a new step before launch: the Playdate Developer Preview.
We were stunned by the huge response from developers who wanted to get cranking with Playdate. And if developers can get started early, Playdate will be even more interesting when it arrives for everyone.
The plan is simple: get early units to some developers as soon as possible.
As I write this, two of us are in Malaysia supervising the build of hundreds of Playdates for this new dev phase.
Here’s a peek at our production line:
Now, if you’re not a developer, these early Playdates won’t be useful at all. They’ll have no games to play, and do absolutely nothing out of the box. But for game developers, though, they’re the best way to test real Playdate games!
Very soon, we’ll put these Developer Preview units up for sale. We’ll e-mail our developer mailing list when it’s time.
And since we can only make so many, we'll randomly select a number of recipients. Any developer can order, and credit cards won’t be charged unless you’re selected.
Then, we’ll ship them out, provide access to our SDK and support forum, and do all we can to help devs out.
(We’ll also be setting aside a significant number of units for underrepresented developers, and developers who may not be able to afford a Playdate today. More details to follow.)
We'll post an update here when it's time.
And remember, after this phase, there will be no such thing as a “development kit” for Playdate — every Playdate is a devkit. Any Playdate owner can be a developer. We'll have more to announce next year about how anyone, even the non-technical, can make a Playdate game.
Also, a few more things:
We’ve added two new people to our small team: a firmware engineer, and a full-time Playdate Developer Relations person. More on that later.
And over in Japan, we’ve been hosting a couple Playdate Mini-Expo pop-up events. Nobuhiro Hasegawa, one half of Panic Japan, says:
“Japan has created many handheld game devices, and I wanted to give Japanese people an opportunity to actually touch it before start preordering. In Nagoya and Kobe visitors were super amazed at the super sharp and bright display looks like e-ink not LCD and compact size is Japanese favorite. A visitor even said the AB buttons made me want to lick it.”
And yes, Playdate will (still) ship in 2020. How will ordering work?
We’re planning to open full orders once the Playdate Developer Preview cycle is complete (and our first season of games is done). We do not want to take anyone’s money until Playdate is absolutely 100% ready to go.
That means we’ll begin taking orders in 2020, once we have lots of Playdates in stock and ready to go out the door.
But, this is important: once that first batch of units is sold, Playdate will not be “sold out”. Our plan is to take back orders and do constant production at the factory, keeping our line running every weekday, and shipping units as they arrive.
We’ll give plenty of heads up before Playdate is on sale!
And that’s where we’re at.
We’re extremely excited for 2020. We’re extremely eager for you to hold Playdate in your hands. And we’re extremely thankful for your enthusiasm.
PS: We’re also working on this case? What do you think?
PPS: we never introduced ourselves
Panic has been around for over 20 years. That's quite a while, and we hope to stick around for quite a while longer. We’re a smedium-sized crew — 25 people, 5 on Playdate.
For most of our existence we’ve made Mac software, but a few years ago, to try new things, we published a video game called Firewatch, and started work on Playdate. Most recently we published another video game called Untitled Goose Game. That was really fun. Nice to meet you!