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The Playdate handheld games console is in production for developers

It wasn’t a dream. Remember back in May when Panic announced a curious black-and-white screened gaming handheld with a D-pad, two buttons and a crank? Well, right now hundreds of them are being constructed in a factory in Malaysia for developers to begin working on.

“We were stunned by the huge response from developers who wanted to get cranking with Playdate,” the company wrote in its December update. And if developers can get started early, Playdate will be even more interesting when it arrives for everyone. 

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The key phrase there is “for developers”. If a consumer bought one, they’d be hugely disappointed, as it would come with no games whatsoever. This is for developers to make games and see how they play on the hardware itself. Once dispatched, developers will gain access to the software development kit (SDK) and support forums, with Panic doing “all we can to help out.”

The final version, of course, will come with 12 games built in – one unlocking every Monday for 12 weeks for the handheld’s first “season”. Though the sheer number of developer editions the company is making must increase the odds of a second and third season following.

There’s an element of randomness to this process. Interested developers can order one, but only some will be selected at random – those who are unsuccessful won’t have their credit cards charged. 

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Panic – the developers more recently seen making Firewatch and publishing Untitled Goose Game – is keen to point out that once the final product ships in 2020, every unit can be used to make more titles and claims that “even the non-technical” can make a Playdate game.   

Finally, the company has one more little update. It’s working on a cute case to protect that 2.7-inch 400×240 black-and-white LCD display, which magnetically snaps closed to the corner screws. You can see it in the tweet embedded below.   

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