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Playdate beats expectations after topping 53,000 sales in first year

Panic says it was worried its initial 20,000 unit order wouldn't sell out.

Chris Kerr

April 18, 2023

2 Min Read
Playdate in the hands of an owner

Panic's vibrant Playdate handheld has sold over 53,000 units since it began shipping a year ago.

It seems like the console has smashed Panic's internal sales expectations, with the company indicating it wasn't sure the device would find an audience.

"We first opened pre-orders for Playdate on July 29, 2021. At the time, Panic planned to manufacture 20,000 units, and were not sure if the demand would be there to sell those 20,000 units in a timely fashion," said the company in a press release.

Panic went on to sell those initial 20,000 units in under 20 minutes, and has since bolstered Playdate with the launch of a curated digital storefront called Catalog and additional free titles. Notably, Panic added that almost 20,000 games and apps have been downloaded from Catalog since it launched just over a month ago.

A good time to arrange a Playdate

"It’s been a great year for Playdate," said Greg Maletic, Playdate project lead at Panic. "When we started, we had no idea how big the audience would be for a weird product like this, but we told the factory: build 20,000. To have now sold more than 53,000 (and counting) is heartening.

"And this, at a time when parts shortages forced our delivery lead-times out as much as a year. As those lead-times shorten and Playdate delivery becomes more immediate, we’re looking forward to an even better Year Two."

Panic said it has currently shipped 27,000 of its Playdate pre-orders, and expects to have delivered all pre-orders by the end of the year. The company also intends to "one day" expand the list of territories where it can ship Playdates to–including Malaysia, where Playdates are manufactured.

As well as making the device itself, Panic has committed to supporting budding Playdate developers, and last year made the Playdate SDK public (for free) to help creators bring their projects to fruition.

Other tools such as Pulp, a web-based game editor for Playdate that can be used to create games with next to no coding experience, also serve to make Playdate development ludicrously accessible.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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