Rumor: Radical changes coming to Nintendo 3DS

After what was by all accounts a completely fumbled product launch, Nintendo is working fervently to save the fate of its 3DS handheld.

A French gaming site called 01Net claims to have received inside info from a rare Nintendo employee who is willing to leak highly secret behind-the-scenes details.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, the source reportedly revealed that Nintendo is working “sleepless nights” to create a special add-on for the system that will function as a second joystick.

Currently, the 3DS has one joystick positioned on the left of the device, called the “circle pad.” Apparently Nintendo wanted to have a dual-pad design but scrapped that idea in order to push the system out early and beat Sony’s next-gen handheld to the market.

The 3DS attachment will reportedly sell for around $10, but the even bigger claim from 01Net is that Nintendo will be launching an entirely new version of the 3DS next year, one that will dramatically shift the focus away from the glasses-free 3D technology and instead give Nintendo fans what they have always valued the most – good, quality, fun games.

Nintendo has a very solid track record of being able to keep its console prices solid for a long time after being released, but the 3DS is a very different story. The company has already slashed the system from $250 to $170.

In addition to being the most expensive system Nintendo has ever released, it launched without any good games, and heavyweight franchises like Mario still aren’t available.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata admitted there were many faults with the release of the 3DS. In addition to the lack of launch titles, the company missed its target of a holiday 2010 release, which could have spurred significantly more sales and given it much more traction out of the gate.

As it stands, though, a lot of things are starting to crumble at Nintendo, leading to massive cuts in stock prices and significant salary reductions for some of the company’s top executives, including Iwata’s.

So it would be crazy to think that some sort of radical changes are brewing throughout the company. If this report is true, it would be one of the most radical moves in Nintendo’s history.