What we heard: According to 01net, a Nintendo employee has provided the site with some hush-hush details about future 3DS plans. The French site has appeared in Rumor Control before, with a report describing the Wii U's tabletlike controller nearly two months before the official unveiling.
The two big points are that Nintendo is working on a right analog pad/stick attachment for its 3DS handheld for about $10 and that it is planning a complete redesign of the system with reduced emphasis on 3D visuals for release next year. It's unclear both how the 3DS attachment would connect to the system and if 01net believes that the redesigned hardware would include a second analog circle pad/stick.
On the plus side, a second analog controller would allow companies who have developed games on the PlayStation Vita or one of the major consoles to more easily port their titles to the 3DS without redesigning the controls from scratch. That it would take one of the Sony handheld's competitive advantages away in the process is a nice bonus.
However, introducing the add-on would run the risk of splitting a 3DS installed base that is already so small that third-party publishers have been reluctant to vigorously support it. And depending on the configuration, the stick attachment could make the 3DS slightly less appealing to take on the go, making it a relatively sleek piece of electronics saddled with an extra piece jutting out.
A second analog stick attachment could be seen as an admission that the company lacked critical foresight in developing the 3DS and is now offering a knee-jerk reaction to follow along with what the competition has already done. That would be an unusual course of action for Nintendo, considering the company has traditionally avoided such moves and made much of its "Blue Ocean" strategy of pioneering new fields instead of competing where its rivals already have a position of strength.
The redesigned 3DS hardware is much more in keeping with the company's history (see the DS Lite, DSi, and DSi XL most recently). Even if a 2012 release seems sudden for a second 3DS, the gap could be on par with that of the original DS (launched in the US November of 2004) and its immediate successor, the DS Lite (which debuted a year and a half later in June of 2006). However, the functionality of those two systems was essentially identical. If a new 3DS debuted with a right analog stick next year, early adopters, some of the most loyal customers the company has, could feel jilted.
Regardless, both moves smack of desperation. Then again, given the state of Nintendo these days, it's possible the people within the company are reaching for the panic button. After years of phenomenal success, the Wii and DS markets have significantly cooled in the last year. The highly touted 3DS debuted with a thud at retail. Third-party publishers have been slow to embrace the system, with some cancelling announced titles in significant series like Assassin's Creed and Saints Row. On top of that, Nintendo debuted its successor to the Wii at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo, sparking an investor sell-off that shed nearly 6 percent of the company's value in a single day.
Last month marked a potential low point for Nintendo, as company executives confirmed they would drastically miss its profit forecast, slashed the price of the 3DS less than six months after the system launched, apologized to early adopters with an unprecedented promise of 20 free games, and voluntarily took drastic pay cuts. Now the big questions are, "How desperate is Nintendo?" and "What else does it have up its sleeve?"
The official story: "Nintendo does not comment on rumors or speculation."--A Nintendo representative.
Bogus or not bogus?: Sounds bogus, but desperation can push a company to try some pretty unorthodox--and sometimes successful--moves.