Playdate $400K consoles theft misery ends with mysterious return of consignment — investigations 'closing in' on the perps

Playdate handheld consignment
(Image credit: Playdate)

Gaming handheld brand Playdate is celebrating the return of hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of misdelivered-then-stolen devices. Playdate has a curious tale to share about the return of the stolen loot, and teases there are even more details to come on its social media accounts.

(Image credit: Playdate)

Earlier this year around $400k worth of Playdates were delivered to a construction site near the Playdate warehouse – crucially not the correct address for the large consignment of boxes. They were subsequently stolen. However, as the firm’s investigations closed in on the potential thieves, a large number of unopened cartons full of Playdates were “dumped at a random restaurant.” The gaming handheld maker may be considering selling the returned loot as a special edition – “Playdate Hot™” - but that may be just a joke…

The return of the Playdate consoles is said to be the “best possible outcome,” for the firm, as it wasn’t sure it was covered by the insurance policies it held. When quizzed about how the boxed consoles were recovered, Playdate indicated that it was “the result of lots of time and detective work.”

Playdate also teased that consoles that were sold-on to consumers by the thieves helped it track down and repossess the large consignment you see in the photographs. The “streets of North Las Vegas,” are mentioned in another comment about the stolen devices. However, just because a large number of unopened cartons have been ‘returned’ it doesn’t mean Playdate has stopped its investigations. “Let's just say we were closing in,” Playdate told one of its fans on Twitter/X…

What’s a Playdate?

The Playdate is the eponymous handheld gaming device made by Playdate, and which we reviewed two years ago. Its special sauce is the inclusion of a mechanical crank - augmenting the array of more typical controls like a D-pad and buttons. This can give the Teenage Engineering-designed Playdate games a unique mechanic.

However, the Playdate is meant to be used with a specially written library of titles, released in seasons. Unlike many handheld rivals, this isn’t for reliving big-name retro games. Moreover, it sports a mono screen which isn’t the best for viewability.

In our review, the device was panned for its low-tech approach clashing with its high price ($179). Two years later, and it is listed on the official site at $199 – which isn’t the usual price action we see, but includes 24 game downloads.

If you are a fan of this unusual console, Playdate is preparing a stereo dock for release “soon.”

Mark Tyson
Freelance News Writer

Mark Tyson is a Freelance News Writer at Tom's Hardware US. He enjoys covering the full breadth of PC tech; from business and semiconductor design to products approaching the edge of reason.

  • scottslayer
    Is this going to end like the MSI GPU thefts where some employee was stealing them?
  • namtrooper81
    I suspect the thieves realized they had hot garbage on their hands and they would never be able to peddle it. So they just dumped it.
  • WonkoTheSaneUK
    Odds the thieves misread "Playdate" as "Playstation"?