Playdate console

Twitter has been ablaze with news of Playdate


Every once in a while, its my unfortunate duty to call out products that are not going to work.

It’s not a pleasant task. I remember when I did it for Project Ara and I got a lot of bad responses for my 100% accurate prediction

I love the idea of PlayDate, I love the design company behind the concept, but (based on what I’ve learned) its not going to work.

Hear me out.

  1. its too expensive. Panic has commented on twitter “that they couldn’t sell the console under 100USD” because it would be at a loss. Now, in order for any hardware to be sustainable, you need 2x - 2.5 x margins. If it really is so, that 100USD is already a pain point for PlayDate, it would actually have to be sold at 200-250 USD to make business sense. At 150 USD they’re setting themselves up for a failure, especially because of point#2

  2. that crank is going to be a mechanical nightmare & major source of customer complaints. This one I know better than any of the other arguments. I was there when flip phones were the thing and I saw up close - very close - the patents and mechanisms of the phone hinges. First of all, the mechanism shown in the concept images is far too light to be able to take sustained mechanical wear. it will either break or become loose with wear. And then, if it is an absolute position device, there is the electromechanical wear to worry about. I’m interested in the component they have chose to do the task, but, its either going to be expensive or its going to break. EDIT: and when something costs 150USD, people WILL complain if it doesn’t work. If something is <50USD people will just let it go. In this case, they will ask for money back and it will eat badly into the already thin margins

  3. 20 FPS limitation in the screen component. According to the information I have seen the Sharp display is HW limited to 20 FPS. Some people are going to be OK with this … alot of people won’t.

So, conclusion. This is one of those devices that is going to cause alot of hype, but it most likely can not live up to that hype come shipping day. The early signs are not good.

But I’m just a guy. What do I know?


I agree. The price should be sub 100 USD for it to be a successful product. About the crank, which looks very nice, I think that both the usability is not good, and also the type of games it fits is very limited. If many people said the Wii remote control was a gimmick, then the crank is the “definition of gimmick”.

Also agreed. It would’ve made sense 20 years ago at a much lower price.

What I really like is the weekly programmed release of games. It’s a great move, and all the marketing is made perfectly. At least in this aspect is something to envy.

The promised weekly release of games. This to me is not a good sign but yet another alert of an overpromise / underdeliver likelihood

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They promised to release 12 games, after that “We’ll see…”
Something like the roller controller planned for the colecovision controls but eventually dropped, might give them the about the same functionality but be more reliable…

I’m a huge fan of weird controllers, but having this winder as a MAIN controller on a handheld it just stupid.

I have to agree, the price is what killed it for me, sure neat concept but cranks are fragile I remember all the people complaining about the crank on Otto the gif camera next thing made, too fragile but price is the bad part $150 and only a slow monochrome, that’s three full color pokitto,


I’ve seen a lot of emergency flashlights and radios with cranks on them, and the cranks seem reliable enough.

But, looking at the pictures, when someone is turning the crank, their other hand has to hold on to the unit, So there appears to be no easy way to use the crank and the other buttons at the same time.

(On the other hand, if it had a roller controller instead of a crank, it would be great for “Major Havoc”)

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There are good gimmicks and bad gimmicks.

I think this is a bad gimmick.
Though in fairness, once upon a time the Virtual Boy was a flop and now VR is a big thing,
so you never can tell.

Ultimately for me the killer is the price.
I’d struggle to justify paying that much for a console with a colour screen and decent spec,
so for a monochrome screen console with just a dpad and two buttons it’s ridiculous.

I easily could buy a cheap wind-up torch,
rip out the crank from that and wire it up to the Pokitto’s PEX,
which would net me a better spec at a cheaper price.


I pretty much said this in a discord server. So true.

adafruit has made it


It looks like a mechanical rotary encoder, you can’t spin those fast enough to be useful as any kind of game controller, they’re just too noisy and will skip. An optical one one the other hand might be useful, but probably cost more and still be stupid to have as a main control device.

Actually, it does not look like a rotary encoder. The rendering looks like a free shaft with a magnet on top of a SMD HAL chip set perpendicular to axis.

What this means is spinning speed and direction can be detected, no mechanical wear but absolute position can not be sensed

Edit: oh you mean the pybadge. yep, its a rotary encoder

Amen in the price thing, for reference I just set up a full on sweet game boy replica with a pi zero w and 32 gig eco sd card for $75 usd, I could still get another pokitto and have lunch at a nice Chinese Buffett and still have like $5 leftover and not have to crank my monochrome fame machine.