As our first 5,000 finished Playdate units arrived at our warehouse in California for 2021, we began to test a few of them. 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.
We made the difficult, expensive decision to replace all of our existing batteries with brand new ones, from a totally different battery supplier.
It was extra frustrating, because when we built our Developer Preview units, the exact same type of batteries worked just fine — but something, somewhere (we're researching) changed between then and now, and the new ones did not work just fine. We have no time to waste, so we’re moving on.
And so, we shipped 5,000 finished Playdates back to Malaysia to be given new batteries. How did that feel? Not great!!!
The good news: we’ve already received the new batteries from the new supplier, and they’re looking really impressive — they’re exactly what we’re hoping for, if not even better than before. We’re extremely confident the new supplier can give Playdate the battery life we designed, and you deserve.
And there’s one huge silver lining: we’re extremely glad that we found this potential issue before shipping you a Playdate.
In just a few weeks, factory production will ramp up to full speed again, with new batteries in place. They’ll be put in all units, even those we’ve already made. But, it does mean “Late 2021” units are now “Early 2022”. More on this below.
With lots of pre-orders in place, we immediately placed an order at our factory for all the parts needed for 2022 units and beyond. The response was… sobering. Many of our parts have been delayed significantly. In fact, we can’t get any more of Playdate’s current CPU for — you’re not going to believe this — two years. Like, 730 days.
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.
Here’s one way we’re working to beat the chip shortage: we’ve just finished a revision of Playdate’s main board (for units made later next year) so that we can use a similar, but more widely available, CPU.
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.
There are a number of other part shortages we’re trying to outsmart right now, and while it’s stressful and frustrating, rest assured we will do everything we can to make as many Playdates as we can for you.
As we enter 2022, we’ll keep you posted.
As you probably guessed, surprise bummer setbacks slam right into our schedule, and as a result, Playdate will arrive a little bit later than expected for some. We’re very sorry, and we’re especially sorry for those of you who were planning to give a Playdate as a holiday gift.
But, don’t worry: your place in line is not changing!! You will keep your place in line as long as your pre-order is active.
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 past 50,000 will almost certainly land in 2023, but we’re not quite there yet.
• Should anyone ahead of you in line cancel their order, your place in line will move up.
• If you placed more than one order, the Group Number above reflects only your first order.
• The Order Number listed on your receipt is not an accurate indicator of your place in line. Group Number is canon!
• Of course, these estimates are all subject to change. It’s a wild time. But we’ll do everything we can to speed up our process as we begin to crank out (ugh) units, and as always we’ll keep you posted.
Deep breath. Moving on. On the software side, we spent the last few weeks heavily testing the season delivery code with every Panic employee. Software bugs, they’re so much easier to fix than hardware bugs!
After some tuning and tweaking, games deliver exactly as we dreamed: you wake up in the morning, and your Playdate is ready with two new games for you to unwrap and play. New game delivery works great and feels great — every time. We really think you’ll agree when your season begins.
We’ve also just completed some very complex work on a file system update for Playdate, so Playdate will ship to you with a more robust, journaling file system, to get the most of its 4GB of storage.
Remember, Playdate is an open platform, and we want you to make things for it. To do that, you’ll need either the full Playdate SDK — which allows you to code in C or Lua on Mac, Windows, or Linux — or Pulp, our friendly game-making tool that lets you build simple games right in your web browser.
But, when will those be available?
They’re super close to the finish line, so we’re excited to announce some estimated dates for them.
This is going to be a lot of fun. Remember, the Pulp Public Beta can be enjoyed by anyone — all you need is a web browser and an idea for a simple, tile-based game. We can’t wait to see what you make.
Our factory will be sending Playdates to our fulfillment warehouse in California in pallets of 2,500 each, as they are made. We’ll be using air freight, not boats, because everything (logistics are wild now).
When a pallet of Playdate units arrives in California, we will immediately repackage them into individual boxes and send them out the door to you, one by one. Playdates will be sent out in the same order as the orders were received.
Playdate Season One begins when you set up your Playdate for the first time. You’ll get two games immediately, then every Monday you’ll get two brand new games, for three months.
We had originally hoped everyone would have a synchronized season, but it didn’t feel right to artificially hold back from shipping units to customers just for this. But, if we do another season, our synchronized season dream will be finally possible.
In short, whenever you get your Playdate, Season One will be yours to enjoy once it arrives.
We’ve got a billion other things going on that we’ll report on in the future — adding more features to our SDK, thinking about game distribution and future seasons, and more.
But for now, we just want to say: thank you. Thank you for being so excited about getting your Playdate. And thank you for your understanding and compassion when things bring us down. Your incredible enthusiasm is literally keeping us going — and we won’t stop here.
The Playdate Team at Panic
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