Playdate Finally Adds an App Store—Alongside a $20 Price Hike

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At $179, the Game Boy-inspired Playdate gaming handheld was already pricey, but starting next month, it’s getting a $20 price hike.

Panic, Playdate’s developer, is blaming rising manufacturing and shipping costs for the price increase, which will take effect on April 7. 

“Our manufacturing partner recently gave us the news that the cost of building a Playdate is going up. And given our already tight margins, we’re at a point when we need to adjust Playdate’s price,” Panic said on Tuesday. 

Catalog on the Playdate

The new $199 price risks hurting the appeal for the handheld device, which our review already noted was expensive, although you get access to 24 free games. In contrast, Valve’s Steam Deck is a mobile PC that starts at $399, and can run thousands of titles from the Steam store.  

Still, Panic is trying to soften the blow by giving consumers a month to purchase the Playdate at the $179 price before implementing the price hike. But if you buy one today, you’ll have to wait until “late 2023” before the product finally ships. 

games offered over Catalog

Games offered on Catalog

In some good news, Panic is finally rolling out an app store for the Playdate. The store is called “Catalog,” and it offers an alternative way to load new games on the device, bypassing the need to rely on sideloading.

“Playdate owners will be able to browse and purchase various titles with a credit card through Panic’s Crank-To-Buy technology on-device,” the company said. “Apps purchased through Catalog can receive automatic updates, unlike sideloaded apps, and are tied to a user’s Playdate account, meaning they can always be re-downloaded.”

The Catalog store also includes two free games, alongside several paid titles, which range from $1 to $15. Playdate owners should receive access to the store today through a system update.

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