It’s bad news if all of your 2021 holiday gift giving revolved around Panic’s upcoming Playdate console. Following Valve’s announcement yesterday that its Steam Deck console was being delayed two months into the new year, Panic has also revealed that it won’t get the first 10,000 preordered Playdate units out by the end of 2021 like it had hoped, and is now aiming for early 2022.
However, while Valve has cited the global supply chain issues and an inability to get the components its manufacturing facilities need to actually build the Steam Deck consoles as the reason for that handheld being delayed into 2022, Panic experienced an entirely different problem, as detailed in a post shared with those who have already preordered the Playdate and were expecting delivery in the next two months.
Thanks to the Playdate’s monochromatic reflective screen that doesn’t need a backlight, the handheld has been pitched as having amazing battery life when compared to the other devices we carry around all day with LCD and OLED displays. But the first 5,000 Playdate units that arrived at the company’s warehouse in California were not only found to have disappointing battery life—much less than what Panic promised—but many units had batteries installed that were completely drained and couldn’t be recharged at all.
The unfortunate solution was to ship all 5,000 of the first run of Playdate units back to Malaysia to be upgraded with new batteries from a completely different supplier. It’s not only an expensive solution to the problem for Panic, but it also means that the company will be missing its anticipated late 2021 delivery for the first 10,000 Playdate preorders, with “early 2022" being as accurate an estimation of when they will arrive now.
The global shipping shortage is also having an effect on Panic’s ability to get Playdates built. The CPU the handheld currently uses is essentially back-ordered for roughly two years, so the company has had to revise the Playdate’s main board to use a similar and more readily available CPU, which, it promises, will not have any effect on gameplay or the handheld’s performance. It will, however, have an effect on those with a preorder past the 50,000 units mark. Those won’t be delivered until 2023 at the earliest, which is understandably frustrating for both the company and customers.
As for the other highly anticipated and much-delayed handheld that was finally suppose to arrive in late 2021? There’s no word on how production of the Analogue Pocket as been affected by the global supply chain crisis, but let’s all keep our fingers crossed real tight in hopes that it doesn’t suffer the same fate as the Playdate and Steam Deck.