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What just happened? Panic is once again increasing the cost of its quirky Playdate handheld game console. Starting April 7, a new Playdate will set buyers back $199 - an increase of $20 over the current $179 price point. Fortunately, Panic will honor the lower price from now until April 7 so you've still got a full month to save a Jackson on your pre-order.
Panic said it was recently told by its manufacturing partners that the cost to make the machine would be going up and given their already tight margins, they had no choice but to adjust Playdate's price.
The Oregon-based developer introduced its retro-inspired handheld in mid-2019 at a promised price point of $149. The low-power gaming system, complete with mechanical crank control mechanism on the side, would miss its planned 2020 shipping window thanks to setbacks from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first $20 price bump came in mid-2021 but was accompanied by a doubling of the system's storage - up to 4GB. Panic also said the number of games released as part of season one would be doubled, from 12 to 24.
Speaking of games, Panic also announced that the Playdate Catalog is now available for all handheld owners. This curated store for Playdate software is available as part of the latest Playdate OS and includes both new content and some previously released favorites.
Despite formally launching on April 18, 2022, Playdate orders are still backlogged. According to the Panic shop, pre-orders placed today carry an estimated ship date of late 2023. That's a long time to wait for something that formally launched nearly a year ago.
Those too impatient to play the waiting game can unofficially expedite the process by purchasing from a third-party marketplace, but it'll cost you. A quick check of sold listings on eBay revealed units recently going for around $350 to $400. That's a markup of about double but for some, not having to wait until the end of the year is clearly worth it.