More Shake-Ups Rumored for Nintendo 3DS

Something’s brewing at Nintendo headquarters. According to Gamasutra, the company is planning a news conference in Tokyo on September 13, with only one topic of discussion: the future of the Nintendo 3DS.

Nintendo’s newest handheld device had a troubled launch, with slower sales than expected. That prompted Nintendo to drop the 3DS price from $250 to $170 earlier this month. In a letter to early adopters, Nintendo said it had to cut the price to boost sales, ensuring that publishers would support the new hardware.

Now, Nintendo is rumored to be planning even bigger changes. French site 01net reports that Nintendo may redesign the 3DS with a second analog stick and a reduced emphasis on glasses-free 3D. This model would launch under a new name in 2012, the site’s unnamed sources said.

It sounds like a far-fetched rumor to me, because those changes would alienate early adopters of the Nintendo 3DS. But as Joystiq points out, 01net has proven accurate with a couple of scoops on the PS Vita and Nintendo Wii U, so I wouldn’t dismiss the report outright. And I can see why publishers might want Nintendo to redesign the 3DS: A second analog stick would make multi-platform development on Nintendo’s handheld and Sony’s PS Vita a lot easier.

Whether that rumor pans out or not, I doubt we’ll see such drastic measures at Nintendo’s conference in September. As M2 Research analyst Billy Pidgeon told VentureBeat, it’s more likely that Nintendo will focus on software, both packaged and online. Right now, new content is exactly what the Nintendo 3DS needs to compete with the vast app selections of smartphones and tablets. Nintendo has already announced big titles like Star Fox 64 3D and a new Mario Kart, so hopefully the conference will bring more than just a rehash of old news.

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