Nintendo is to radically revise the design of the 3DS, according to reports, with a new unit due in 2012 sporting a second analogue stick, reduced emphasis on 3D and perhaps even a new name.
The claims come from sources close to French site 01.net, and while they appear outlandish it should be noted that the site has, so far this year, published information on Wii U and Vita that was later proven largely correct.
The first claim is that Nintendo executives believe they made a mistake in not adding a second analogue stick to the original 3DS design. Nintendo R&D is now apparently at work on a peripheral, to be sold separately for around $10, that will add the functionality of a second stick. As such Nintendo has tasked "a select group of developers" with development of games specifically designed for dual analogue sticks.
The report goes on to claim that Nintendo is admitting defeat in its attempt to convince the market that 3DS's glasses-free effect is harmless, and is struggling to market the device's USP through traditional media channels. As such it is to release a new version of the system next year, with a new dual-analogue design, reduced emphasis on 3D and potentially a different name.
The report speculates that, far from being designed to increase the installed base, the recent global price cut was intended to clear stock of the old design ahead of the revision's release next year. It also claims that developers are becoming increasingly frustrated with Nintendo's submission and approval process, as well as the price and scarcity of dev kits – apparently only 300 are being manufactured per month.
All of which sounds fanciful at best but, as mentioned above, it is worth pointing out 01.net's past. In January, it reported on the technical specifications of Sony's PlayStation Vita, which at the time was still codenamed Next Generation Portable. Its report proved largely consistent with the Vita's final specs which Sony revealed last week.
Then, in April, it lifted the lid on Wii U, revealing for the first time the system's development codename of Project Café. Its claims of a six-inch, single-touch screen on the controller, backwards compatibility with Wii games and IBM PowerPC processor proved correct.
Should the 3DS claims be proven correct it would represent a remarkable admission of failure on Nintendo's part. Few would contest, given Nintendo's past, that a hardware revision would transpire at some point, but surely none would predict that it would act so quickly and so drastically. But Nintendo has already shown its willingness to act at speed by cutting the global price of 3DS by up to 40 per cent within six months of launch.
Nintendo responded with a curt: "We don't comment on rumour or speculation."