Playdate is a handheld gaming device created by iOS and Mac devs

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Playdate 2
Coming soon to a pocket near you?
Photo: Panic

Panic, a company known for developing apps for iOS and macOS, today announced plans to enter the hardware market with the launch of the Playdate, a new handheld gaming system.

The device boasts a d-pad, A and B buttons, and an innovative hand crank on the side which will be incorporated into games as a gameplay mechanic.

“Hello. We made a brand new handheld gaming system,” the company’s website reads.

“It’s yellow. It fits in your pocket. It’s got a beautiful black and white screen. It’s not super cheap, but not super expensive. It includes brand new games from some amazing creators. Plus it has a crank. … For over 20 years Panic has mostly made Mac and iOS software. Twenty years is a long time, and we wanted to try some new things. To make the most of what we have.

That’s why we started publishing games, like Firewatch and, soon, Untitled Goose Game. But what if we could push ourselves even further? What if we could build something? A real something that you could hold? It was harder than we thought, but it’s here.”

The device will retail for $149, and will go on sale in early 2020. Playdate says that 12 games will be included initially, although these will be made available one at a time over the first several months. Additional titles will be added in the future.

Alongside the aforementioned features, the miniature console will pack a USB-C port for charging, a headphone jack, and support for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Playdate’s design partner for the project is Teenage Engineering. Teenage has previously built several iPhone-related accessories. These include the OP-Z pocket synthesizer which uses the iPhone as its screen, and an iPad-friendly OP-1 synthesizer.

Will it make it?

It’s definitely an interesting move to make, at a time when services like Apple Arcade are trying to make iOS devices more of a gaming-focused device.

Will this next generation console be the next ultra-successful Game Boy or the next failed Pono Player? While it would seem likely that it’ll land somewhere between the two, we certainly hope that it’s more on the end of the former than the latter.

If you’re interested in finding out more, you can sign up on Panic’s website to be notified as more information becomes available.