What is the retail reality for Valve's Knuckles controller?

June 26, 2017

 

Go to any major VR website or gaming forum and you'll see plenty of recent discussion regarding Valve's new Knuckles controller.  Knuckles Dev kits, including prototypes of the controller itself, are being sent to 3rd party developers. Some developers have already received these prototypes, and are demonstrating some amazing things with the revolutionary new device. For example, Zulubo Productions, creator of the game Vertigo, has recently posted a video on YouTube showing some amazing tricks the controller is capable of. Despite all this renewed excitement about the upcoming peripheral, I can't help but think of the bigger picture.  How exactly is this product going to come to market ? What is the retail reality of this new controller?

 

The fact that we are all of a sudden hearing a ton of information about this new controller is no accident. If Valve didn't want this information coming out, it wouldn't have come out. So, you have to imagine that there is a reason to get this controller out in the public consciousness. If there is any chance this controller is a retail product targeted for later this year, people need to know more about it, sooner rather than later.  Remember, Valve has some other new hardware scheduled to launch later this year. They have an updated version of the lighthouses, that aren't backwardly compatible with original Vive headsets.  Supposedly, these new lighthouses will be available later this year, but what's the point in having a pair of lighthouses without a headset that uses them? This would suggest that some new headset is incoming. We already know that LG plans on bringing out a headset, but it was shown with controllers that certainly looked nothing like the Knuckles prototype.

 

Is there any possibility that the LG controllers pictured to the left are simply placeholder?  Waiting for when Valve gives them the green light,  to reveal their inclusion into the overall retail package? Could this new LG headset feature both the new lighthouses and a pair of Knuckles controllers? It's certainly possible. Of course, it's just as likely that LG's headset won't include either upgrade. Valve is extremely tight lipped about such things, and doesn't normally reveal details of that nature until the last minute.

 

Could Valve simply release the controllers in their own retail package, as a standalone accessory, later this year ? This indeed, could be the most likely scenario. Instead of being included with the LG, you might have to buy these separately, at least initially. The question of price of course is the next thing to think about. Oculus priced their Touch package at $199.99 before chopping the price in half more recently. Of course, the original Touch package also came with a bevy of software titles thrown in, to make it a much more attractive overall package. It's interesting to note, that Valve definitely has ample firepower in this regard. They could easily package the two controllers together with a huge Valve VR game and sell them for $199.99, at least initially.

 

 

Although we're already well aware that Valve has 3 major VR projects, could any of the 3 be ready this fall, to launch day and date with Knuckles ? The fact that many of Valve's best writers have departed the company recently could suggest that the portion of the project that they were working on has come to completion. It's not out of the realm of possibility, to imagine that at least one of the big 3 VR projects is wrapping up. It's been a number of years since Valve has been working on all this VR stuff behind closed doors. Certainly, one just has to mention two words... "Valve Time", or 2 letters and a digit. HL3  Either of those will tell you that Valve does things their own way. It's not out of the question, that we won't actually get a Knuckles retail arrival this calendar year. We could be looking at 2018. Nevertheless, I can't help but get excited, about how this controller could end up stirring the whole collective VR pot. This products release will have serious and long lasting ramifications for the rest of the VR gaming industry.  Hopefully, this new future isn't as far away as we think.

 

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