See but I really don’t think it is! I’m not just trying to be contrarian, I promise, and I completely agree that your feelings and points of contention will end up being the prevailing opinions of most folks who catch wind of the project.
But! I don’t actually think that’s a problem for them (Panic). I’m not naive enough to think Panic is doing this as some benevolent passion project—profits be damned!—but I do think they’re coming off as realists with respect to actual broader appeal. We’re talking about a boutique developer branching out into hardware with the help of a boutique hardware manufacturer and enlisting boutique game makers to make little boutique games. It’s yellow and has a crank.
It’s a freaking hipster device, man. And holy crap does everything about it appeal to me. Absolutely there’s some risk involved in a preorder, but I risk more on any Kickstarter I’m likely to back and in this case I’ll at least be guaranteed a little curio out of the deal. It’s frivolous, it’s a bit ridiculous, and it’s no small chunk of change. It’s also cool, it’ll probably have a fanatical attach rate, and you better believe it’s gonna get hacked and homebrewed like there’s no tomorrow.
I guess to sum everything up, you are absolutely right on all accounts (though I still think some of your gripes are from perception rather than intent on Panic’s end), and that’s precisely why the Playdate will be less than a blip in the overall games market. Yet it strikes a chord for the tiny subset of people it’s aimed at, certainly the like-minded gamers I’m generally in contact with, and taken as an objet d’art, it’s an exciting proposition, even if it flops.
Interestingly, if this were coming from a larger corporation I’d be cynical as all get out over the whole damn idea! But this one’s tech art. I’ll let you know how it is next year.