The adorable Playdate handheld gets new free games in addition to a $20 price increase

Enlarge / Is the Playdate the cutest portable console out there? You must believe!

Sam Machkovech

Last April, we were excited that the tiny, yellow Playdate portable game console “earns its $179 price tag” with a unique design and a suite of free, inventive crank-powered games. Unfortunately, those interested in joining the 25,000 current Playdate owners will soon have to pay an extra $20 to get their hands on this adorable handheld.

The increase to a price of $199 is coming “because our factory recently gave us the inevitable news that in 2023 the price of building a single Playdate will go up”, Panic (Untitled goose game) CEO Cabel Sasser said in an update stream from Playdate on Tuesday. “Our margins are already surprisingly slim, so while we’ve caught a lot of weird price increases during this weird journey, this is the one we couldn’t avoid, and we’re really sorry.”

For those who want to avoid the roughly 11 percent price hike, Panic is giving interested customers until April 7 to purchase a Playdate at the current $179 price. need to be implemented, Panic now says) don’t have to pay the higher price.

The Playdate isn’t alone among gaming hardware makers that have been forced to raise their prices lately in response to higher-than-normal inflation and ongoing supply chain issues. Meta raised the price of its Quest 2 headset from $299 to $399 last July, while Sony was forced to raise the price of the PS5 in August in many non-US regions.

New game, new features

In addition to the price increase, Panic today announced a number of major new features and content for the 11-month-old Playdate. The latest downloadable system update adds Playdate’s first onboard “Catalog” system. There, users can purchase and download games directly to the Playdate hardware, rather than sideloading games downloaded from or other web-based sources (sideloading still works, of course).

Of the 15 curated titles in the first catalog update, two are available for free: Steal rolls, a heist game based on a crank-controlled fishing rod; And Recommendation Dog, about a canine temp who helps meet the needs of the town. Those titles serve “as a little thank-you bonus for any Playdate owner,” Panic says, and are in addition to the Season One collection of 24 free games still available, which will be delivered to each new Playdate owner twice a week. Other catalog titles are currently available for $1 to $15 and require a credit card to be added to the Playdate account over the Internet.

Elsewhere in today’s update, Panic also promised that the Stereo Dock first announced nine months ago is still in the works, with beta hardware arriving in Panic’s offices recently.

Despite the price hike, it’s nice to see a small company like Panic put time and effort into a decidedly niche console like the Playdate. I hope the on-hardware catalog opens up the new little device to an explosion of new software, just like the App Store did for the iPhone all those years ago.

Leave a Comment