Alongside the reveal of the revamped Knuckles controllers that Valve shared last week, third party developers have confirmed they’ve begun receiving the new EV2 version of the controller. Valve says that “soon, hundreds of developers will get their hands on developer kits and begin experimenting,” and the company is inviting more developers to join the Knuckles dev kit program. Along with the clearly matured design shown off in Knuckles EV2, the quantity of controllers being shipped out to developers suggests that Valve has begun manufacturing small batches, possibly in preparation for a broader rollout.

Knuckles EV2 is the latest iteration of Valve’s in-development VR controller. The company first revealed the hardware project all the way back in 2016, and since then the device has come a long way. The EV2’s design is sleeker and more functional than its predecessors. Visually speaking, it looks much closer to a finished product, especially now that the SteamVR Tracking sensors have been hidden under the plastic. The input module, which contains the thumbstick, track button, and buttons, looks to be a singular unit which could drop directly into the circular opening in the housing of the controller—very similar to the consumer version of the Touch controllers—suggesting a more manufacturing-ready design than previous iterations. The hand strap is even said to be made from an “easy-to-clean anti-microbial material,” and has a fashionable heathered look to boot.

Image courtesy Valve

Speaking to Ars Technica, Valve’s Doug Lombardi suggested that the current version of Knuckles could even be the final design.

“Iteration is a big deal at Valve. So, we will definitely be making updates based on feedback. Whether that happens in the software or the physical hardware may vary depending on what we hear from the dev community.” When asked about consumer availability of the controllers, he told Ars, “more information will be made available soon.”

Image courtesy @AntonHand

Valve says that Knuckles EV2 is shipping to hundreds of developers, and is welcoming more to request dev kits of their own by signing up on the Steam Partner page—”Log in and look for ‘VR Developer Kit Request’ along the right side of the page,” the company writes. Following the EV2 reveal, Alden Kroll, who is involved in developer outreach at Valve, said today that the company is “trying to meet more VR game developers in the Seattle and Puget Sound area.”

Putting Knuckles in the hands of “hundreds” of developers means two individual controllers for each, so at a minimum the company is manufacturing 200+ devices, which means it’s quite unlikely that they’re relying on much hand-building at this point. Valve has shown its affinity for automated hardware manufacturing, and while it seems unlikely that they’ve gone that far just yet, the production of hundreds of dev kits suggests that they’ve moved to small batch manufacturing as they tune the process for larger production runs, especially considering the need to support an influx of developers who will need additional controllers when hardware issues arise.

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Taken together, the latest info on Knuckles suggests that the controllers could be ready for mass production as early as this year, but that may not be the only factor in when they come to market. Valve has heavily hinted that the three VR games the company is building have been developed in conjunction with the development of Knuckles, and it’s quite possible that the release of their first major VR title will be tied to the release of Knuckles. Valve tends to follow a ‘done when it’s done’ approach, so we’ll have to wait to see what factor Valve Time plays in the project.

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  • R FC

    PC VR is looking very promising for 2019 with Knuckles and incoming Valve software

    Just need an alternative SteamVR headset; HTC won’t be seeing my money again, no interest in the Vive Pro with its primitive lenses, and their disfunctional “customer support”

    It’s over to you, Valve….

    • gothicvillas

      Totally agree. Knuckles look awesome and will compliment my Vive nicely. Not interested in pro in the slightest. Only increased FOV will make me reach to my wallet.

    • NooYawker

      Lot’s of companies are using Valve tech now that most of it is royalty free. So we’ll see lot’s of competition.

    • G-man

      fresnel lenses arent primitive. go with convex lens and you get distortion and chromatic aberration. neither is perfect, thats just the laws of physics.

      • R FC

        Fresnel lenses aren’t inherently primitive, HTC just failed to make any improvement on the lens used in Vive Pro. It’s the same lens used in the original vive, small sweet spot and noticeable god rays.

        Oculus Go and even 2017 Daydream View have better Fresnel lens design. HTC should have redesigned the lens to leverage the higher resolution panels in the Pro; it just smacks of laziness inherent to cash grab…

        • G-man

          the go has a lot of chromatic abberation.

  • Str][ker

    HTC’s customer support is horrendous! As soon as there’s a viable competitor not from Facebook, I am making my move. I tried the Vive Pro and really liked the increase in resolution but there are issues with the headset which I (and one other person I know) ran into constantly. My biggest gripe was the microphone which kept failing to work (so I returned it). My experience with HTC customer support involved sending in my controllers and it took them TWO MONTHS to get me my repaired controllers back.. I have a lot of chat transcripts and emails going back and forth with the usual unfulfilled promises about how long it will take to get my controllers back. (TWO MONTHS!)

    So, once Valve has these knuckles on sale, I’m buying them. Hopefully a new headset is not far behind..

  • Sandy Wich

    Thank god for thumbstick. That was the 1 thing that was keeping me from purchasing a Pro Steam VR product. Now if Vive 2 ends up being good and not a half ass dinky money grab like the PRO I may switch teams.

    • jj

      you’re cutting yourself short if the thumbsticks are the only reason you held off..

      • Sandy Wich

        No I have a 4 camera RIFT+Touch setup in a 10×13 play space already.

        I do wanna switch to steam as I loath FB in it’s entirety, but I’ve tried the steam controller before and it controls like total shite.

        The moment they made thumbsticks available a 0% chance platform became something I’m interested in.

        It’s nice to see they have 2 versions though for those who do enjoy the touch pads as well. Now that’s support.

  • Pec

    These controllers and the wireless accessory for the vive will make for some great gaming but we need more big budget games.

  • Yes, they MUST release a game together with the controller. Look what Oculus has done with Robo Recall, a game that exploited perfectly the Oculus Touch controllers