Publisher Panic’s new retro handheld console had 20,000 units available to pre-order and be delivered in 2021. The console went on sale on July 29, 2021, and there were so many orders that many actually gave up on getting a console entirely.
Any units sold after that point will now be delivered at an undefined point in 2022 or beyond. Panic explained prior to the pre-order date that the console would never be sold out. The only difference is that your order may not be delivered for an extremely long time depending on how many people have put an order in ahead of you.
On the day, there was an issue though. Those in the UK who attempted to make a pre-order were told by the site’s checkout that delivery wasn’t available. Panic had put up a list of the countries to which delivery was available, and the UK was listed there. This issue persisted until the 19th minute or so, when finally a few UK residents got a 2021 pre-order in.
Unfortunately for Panic, this caused a bit of a stir. Due to the nature of Playdate, with games launching every week from the day you get the console, many have given up their 2022 pre-order because they feel as though they’re now missing out.
Panic is set to release a free development tool that will allow anyone to build games for Playdate. Whether these will be distributed remains to be seen, but it looks likely that Panic will look to its community for inspiration and new games.
Games will be distributed in seasons over the course of twelve weeks. After the first season, a second will go on sale and offer yet more games. This will continue into the future. The games on Playdate will all be exclusive because Panic isn’t interested in making the device a retro handheld to play other games through emulators, it’s very much its own console.
Time will tell if this initial batch of Playdate consoles even launches this year. With semiconductors in short supply, there are some concerns that the device won’t be built in time for delivery. However, Panic remains confident that the 2021 orders will be fulfilled, and then 2022 orders can be considered.