Sideloading Playdate games

Anyone can sell or share their Playdate code and compiled games any way they wish. You could sell a Playdate game on your website, through an online game store, or another digital-goods marketplace. Playdate owners can sideload these games over a USB connection; or wirelessly, through our website.

Sideloading through the Playdate website

NOTE: Sideloading wirelessly is only available if you have a Playdate device registered on your account. Otherwise there’s no device to, well, sideload to.

The easiest option for most people will be to sideload a game wirelessly through the Playdate website. Here’s how you’d do that:

  • Log in to your Playdate Account at play.date.
  • Go to your Account page.
  • Go to the Sideload page.
  • Drag or select the .pdx game file (or zipped .pdx) to upload it.

The game will be uploaded to your Playdate account and become available to any Playdate you’re logged in on. Next,

  • Go to Settings on your Playdate.
  • Go to Games.
  • Refresh the list (this may happen automatically) and find the game you uploaded.
  • That’s it! Even if you reset your Playdate, or get a new one, you’ll be able to download this game from our server.

Sideloading over a USB connection

This option is primarily meant to be used by game developers.

  • Download the Playdate SDK.
  • Connect your Playdate to your computer via USB cable.
  • Unlock your Playdate.
  • Run your game in the Playdate Simulator by opening the .pdx file (not a zip file).
  • Choose Upload Game to Device from the Simulator’s Device menu. After the game is uploaded to your Playdate, it will start running automatically. The game will remain on your Playdate.

Data Disk mode

Alternatively, you can put your Playdate in “data disk” mode without installing the Playdate SDK. This will let you access its filesystem and copy the game file over.

NOTE: It’s possible to break the software on your Playdate by accessing the files on it directly. Please proceed carefully.

There are two ways to do this.

  • Attach your Playdate to your computer via USB cable.
  • On your Playdate, go to Settings
  • Go to the System section
  • Choose Reboot to Data Disk and confirm

Alternatively,

  • Attach your Playdate to your computer via USB cable.
  • On your Playdate, press and hold the following three buttons at the same time: Left, Lock (top edge of your Playdate), and Menu (round button in the top-right corner).
  • Hold the three buttons for a few seconds, until the screen reads Sharing DATA segment as USB drive.

Whichever way you used to put your Playdate in data disk mode, do this next:

  • On your computer, open the newly mounted PLAYDATE volume.
  • Open the Games folder.
  • Place the .pdx (not a zip file) into the Games folder.
  • Unmount the PLAYDATE volume.
  • The game should now be available on your Playdate.