First Playdate shipments delayed, but for a good reason

It seems that the hardware delays just keep on coming. In a week where we've learned that Valve's Steam Deck has been delayed and that Sony possibly had to cut PS5 production estimates because of the global parts shortage, we're now learning that the initial orders for Panic's Playdate handheld have also been delayed. There is a silver lining to this one, though, so at least in the end, it isn't all bad news.

Playdate's delay has a good reason behind it

In an email sent out to customers who purchased the initial batch of Playdate handhelds (which can be read in full over on Playdate's website), Panic explains that the first and second groups of Playdate shipments have been pushed back from late 2021 to early 2022. Unfortunately, those two groups comprise orders for the first 20,000 units, so this is a pretty significant delay.

What happened? If your first guess was the global silicon shortage, you'd actually be wrong for the first time in months. In the email, Panic explains that the first batch of 5,000 handhelds it received from the manufacturer had defective batteries that didn't last as long as the company expected them to.

Panic then sent the bad units back to the manufacturer to receive new batteries from a new supplier. The company says that the new batteries are "exactly what we're hoping for, if not even better than before," and that they'll deliver on the long battery life that was originally promised to buyers. So, even though initial Playdate shipments were delayed, at least Panic didn't wind up sending handhelds with bad batteries to consumers.

Playdate still isn't immune from supply shortages

While this particular delay isn't necessarily down to global supply shortages, the Playdate is not immune to those either. In another section of that lengthy email, Panic explains that while it was able to secure components for these early production runs, some of the parts needed for Playdates produced in 2022 and beyond were subject to significant delays.

The CPU, in particular, was a significant pain point, as Panic notes that it wouldn't have been able to receive more CPUs for a further two years beyond these initial production runs. With that in mind, Panic says that it has finished a revision of Playdate's mainboard that features a new, more easily obtainable CPU. So, while it still expects to fulfill 50,000 Playdate orders by late 2022, the company says that any orders beyond those will likely land in 2023.

The company also announced today that a public beta of its browser-based Pulp game development tools should be available in January 2022, while the full Playdate SDK will be available in February of that same year. Once those are out in the open, users will be able to craft their own games for Playdate, which is intended to be an open platform. So, while Playdate has hit a few snags, there was also some good news in today's message to customers. We'll let you know when Panic starts shipping out Playdates to early purchasers, so stay tuned for more.