Playdate crank-toting gaming handheld available for developers soon

Remember that odd nod to the past that is game developer Panic's Playdate? The yellow Game Boy look-alike with a hand crank was revealed last May but has yet to be made available for purchase for curious gamers and collectors alike. Panic has just published an update that assures potential buyers that the console is still on track for a 2020 launch. But before that happens, it will provide a few lucky developers with very early units to get them started on developing games for the tiny box.

The Playdate is both eccentric as a gaming handheld as well as a development device. Its most unique hardware feature, a crank, may have inspired many developers with ideas on how to use it for some innovative game mechanics. The interest among such developers may have been so overwhelming that Panic has decided to have a short Developer Preview period in advance of retail availability.

Any developer can apply but Panic says it will randomly choose only a select few given the small number of devices available. These devices, it warns, won't be of any use to non-developers as it won't have any games or do anything at all. It will at least let game developers get started early months before the handheld goes public.

That date is still up in the air but Panic assures it will happen in 2020 when they have enough stocks ready to go out to pre-orders. It won't sell out, though, as Panic promises to continue fulfilling backorders and shipping them as they arrive. If all goes well, of course.

Interestingly, Panic explains that there is no developer kit for the Playdate. All Playdates are ultimately devkits, turning anyone interested, be it a developer or a gamer, into a potential game developer for the device. That definitely increases the device's appeal and, hopefully, all will go well for it in the end.