So imagine you've got one of those old digital games from McDonald's.
Got that image in your head?
You know the ones.
Now imagine that it railed a fat line of "corporate work powder."
And you get the Play.Date.
This thing comes from the same company that made Firewatch; so you can rest assured that while this is their first foray into hardware, these guys already have proven market viability with a game that was all the rage for weeks when it came out.
What is this?
The main website's 2 minute video tells it better than I do.
Go watch it in a new tab and make sense of it for yourself. That's why we have tabbed browsers now.
Once you get back, I'm gonna talk about how I think about this little device.
My thoughts on it
The crank is pretty cool considering it can actually be involved in gameplay. I legitimately thought that this was a hand-crank game console that you could spin up for a charge just like you would a survival flashlight. I guess not; it's actually part of the controls.
I do like the openness of the platform's games: the SDK is available for anyone to make games for the platform on demand.
I am not a fan of the season-style, GaaS mentality regarding the games. They pitch it as being fun, random games; and they even admit that you probably won't like all of them - which is impressive self-awareness and understanding - but I'm leery of the games no longer being available after that point. I don't like that concept. I will admit I do not fully understand how their delivery scheme works, and therefore this entire statement could be completely wrong.
Which is to say, if I get to keep the games after their "slot" is up in the season I don't mind the concept at all.
But if I can't keep the games I like and let the ones I don't care for slide off during the rotation of these games, I'm gonna be significantly less interested. Not everything has to be a "Momento Mori" shtick a la Unus Annus.
I definitely think that the makers of this device would benefit hugely from advertising this as a "disconnected" game console, of sorts. Like they all used to be, before ad-hoc and wifi connected consoles like the Sony PSP, Nintendo DS, and etc started using wireless communications for local and online play.
The Playdate has wifi, ostensibly just as a way to update the games and firmware, and that's just fine with me. I don't want to see it going beyond that though.
Real cool game console with novel ideas and a very simple hardware setup. It will likely bring out some interesting titles and otherwise continue to be a fairly niche device. And, given how crisp and clean the presentation is, I think it will succeed pretty handily in that niche.