App Developer Panic to Launch Portable Video Game Console

Panic

The Playdate console is set to launch in 2020 and will roll out new games each week.

Oregon-based software company Panic, best known for developing apps for Mac and publishing the 2016 adventure game Firewatch, on Wednesday revealed its new handheld console, Playdate. The console is set to launch sometime next year.

Playdate is the first hardware that Panic has developed. The console is a small, yellow handheld portable system with two buttons, a directional pad, a black-and-white screen and a hand crank on the side used for some of its games.

Panic plans to roll out 12 games on the console (included at purchase), one each week — a sort of preamble to the recent talks of subscription and game streaming services in the works at tech companies like Google and Apple. Panic did not reveal any of the games that will be available on the console, but they appear to all be original titles and the company did note that developers such as Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi and Ape Out designer Bennett Foddy were approached. 

"We showed them Playdate and asked, 'Want to make a game for it?' Then we lost our minds when they said 'Yeah!,'" Panic says in a blog post

The price point for Playdate is $149 (for comparison, fellow portable console Nintendo Switch retails at $299). The announcement is particularly interesting as the company has only revealed one of its titles thus far, Crankin’s Time Travel Adventure from Takahashi.

The company promised "much more to come" for the console and said the product is "alive with possibilities and surprises."

Panic's previous forays into gaming have been fruitful. Firewatch won multiple gaming industry awards for its writing and gameplay in 2016 and sold over 1 million copies. The company is also currently working with developer House House on the upcoming Untitled Goose Game, in which players control a pesky goose.