The upcoming handheld from Firewatch publisher Panic has been delayed until early next year.
The announcement came via an update to customers, explaining that the device has been delayed due to a critical issue with the handhelds’ batteries. Some of the first 5,000 units had a shorter battery life than expected, while others would not turn on or charge.
“As our first 5,000 finished Playdate units arrived at our warehouse in California for 2021, we began to test a few of them,” said Panic. “We quickly became concerned that some of them weren’t giving us the battery life we expected. Playdate’s battery is designed to last a very long time, and always be ready for you, even if not used for a while. But that was not the case: in fact, we found a number of units with batteries so drained, Playdate wouldn’t power on at all — and couldn’t be charged. That’s a battery worst-case scenario.
“This quickly turned into a months-long, all-hands-on-deck research stress-ball, and we halted production at the factory.”
Due to the battery issues, Panic has decided to replace all of their existing batteries with those from another supplier – and shipped 5,000 finished Playdates back to Malaysia to be given new batteries.
This has meant that the device has been delayed from late 2021 to early 2022. In fact, Panic has revised Playdate’s main board so that they can use more widely available CPU.
“Maybe you’ve heard about the “global chip shortage” everyone’s talking about? We’re here to say it is very real. Covid-19 caused an ever-cascading set of worldwide supply chain failures that are leading to many, many electronic parts being simply… gone.
“Board revisions are complex and costly. But this other CPU can, for whatever reason, be obtained much sooner. And you won’t notice anything different about this new board revision when it comes to playing games — functionally it will be the same. But it’ll give us the best chance at getting you a Playdate next year, which we both want.”
The Playdate is a new handheld device that delivers a new game from a different designer every week. It is priced at $179 – a $30 increase over its initially announced price, though purchases now get 24 games in Season One, rather than the originally planned 12. Additionally, the handheld’s planned 2GB of memory has been upped to 4GB.