Panic's Playdate handheld is delayed to early 2022

The company announced the delay in the middle of a tweet about other updates.

Panic’s much-hyped little yellow handheld console, the Playdate, has officially been delayed to early 2022. The company announced the delay via its official Twitter account this morning.

Panic says that anyone who pre-ordered a Playdate should have received a copy of the “Playdate Owner’s Update #1” in their email inbox. The update can also be read in full on the company’s website. The delay, it seems, is related to a battery issue that forced Panic to replace all existing batteries with new ones from a different supplier. Sigh.

On the hunt for better batteries — The Playdate’s first delay isn’t a supply chain issue, for once. This boils down to some bad batteries.

Panic says that when the first 5,000 completed Playdates arrived at their California warehouse for final testing, many of the devices weren’t providing the kind of battery life the company had hoped for. Many of the batteries were draining more quickly than they should’ve. Some had discharged to absolute zero — so dead they couldn’t even boot the device or be charged.

Panic obviously couldn’t ship out these handhelds with that kind of problem. So now every single battery is being replaced with new ones. Panic sent the 5,000 completed devices back to Malaysia for the batteries to be replaced.

There is some good news — The first piece of good news in today’s update is that the new batteries are working well. So far, at least. Panic says it’s confident these new batteries will provide much better life for the Playdate.

The Playdate’s game-delivery service is also running smoothly, the company reports. There’s a new file system update that will be included with the shipped Playdate, too, which should allow the 4GB of memory to stretch as far as possible.

And one last bright light for the future: Panic’s game-development kit, Pulp, is all set to arrive in beta form by January 2022. The full SDK should be available in February.

Delays across the board — News of a handheld delay, at this point, comes as no surprise. The Playdate itself was delayed more than a year before pre-orders even opened. The Steam Deck, 2021’s other most-anticipated handheld, has been delayed to February 2022 as well.

The delay is disappointing but not entirely unwelcome. As Panic mentions in its update, it’s far better for these issues to be discovered before the handheld ships rather than after. We’d prefer having a near-perfect device delivered to our doorstep, even if it means that arrival is set back a bit.

Now we just have to wait and hope no other issues arise. Panic mentions a CPU shortage in its update, too, though that’s been solved by re-engineering the Playdate to work with a more readily-available CPU.

Here are Panic’s new shipping estimates:

  • Group #1 (~1 to 10,000) Late 2021 → Now Early 2022
  • Group #2 (~10,000 to 20,000) Late 2021 → Now Early 2022
  • Group #3 (~20,000 to 30,000) Still 2022 (Second Half)
  • Group #4 (~30,000 to 40,000) Still 2022 (Second Half)
  • Group #5 (~40,000 to 50,000) Still 2022 (Late Second Half)

Units ordered past the 50,000 mark will likely arrive in 2023. Those who pre-ordered a Playdate can find their group number on their receipt.