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Playdate is an innovative new handheld gaming console with a crank

UPDATE: pre-orders go live tonight

Between the increasingly wonderful Nintendo Switch and whatever smartphone is currently occupying your pocket, you’d be forgiven for thinking that there’s no need for another handheld gaming machine. That is, until you meet Playdate, an indie console with a 2.7in black and white display, a D-pad, a few face buttons, 16MB of RAM and, most importantly, a little flip-out crank handle on the side that can be used as a controller. In fact, some games on the system will be exclusively crank-controlled. Playdate is made by Panic – publishers of gems like Firewatch and Untitled Goose Game – in collaboration with Teenage Engineering, and has been development for years (it’s worth taking a look at its journey on Panic’s official Twitter account). Just as interesting as the design (YELLOW!) is Panic’s plan for distributing games to the console. You don’t buy physical games or download them from a store. Instead, two new titles will be drip fed to the system each week for a few months, so every release is a surprise. In an update published today, Panic said orders for Playdate will begin in July, with $179 netting you the unit and 24 games. We now know that the battery life will be eight hours in use, with a 14-day standby clock. Panic also announced its first Playdate accessory, a $29 stereo dock (pictured) and Bluetooth speaker that also comes with fetching yellow pen. Because why not. Not long now.