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Nintendo planning a right thumbstick for the 3DS?

The game company might also try to boost its ailing portable business by offering a new device next year.

Will the 3DS add a second thumbstick?
Will the 3DS add a second thumbstick? Nintendo

Major changes are coming to the Nintendo 3DS, a new report claims.

According to French technology site 01net (translated), citing an anonymous source, Nintendo is currently working on a peripheral for its 3DS portable that would bring a right thumbstick to the device. In addition, the report claims Nintendo has already asked third-party developers to get working on designing games that would use two thumbsticks.

Reuters was first to report on the 01net claims.

When the Nintendo 3DS launched earlier this year, its lack of two thumbsticks was cited by critics as a major flaw. Two thumbsticks, like those employed in traditional game controllers, typically allow for more appealing gameplay by offering users better control over characters.

The Nintendo 3DS currently offers a single thumbstick on the left, along with a D-pad underneath. Its upcoming rival, the PlayStation Vita, however, will be launching with dual thumbsticks.

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The reported change to the 3DS comes at a difficult time for Nintendo's portable business. When the 3DS launched in February, Nintendo had high hopes that it would carry a portable torch that had been the brightest in the mobile space, thanks to the success of the Game Boy and DS. However, the $249 device with glasses-free 3D fell flat as consumers around the globe balked.

Things became so bad for Nintendo, in fact, that during its last-reported quarter ended June 30, it sold just 710,000 3DS units worldwide. In the U.S., its sales tallied 110,000 units.

To help turn the tide, Nintendo announced alongside its financials that it would be dropping the price of the 3DS worldwide. The platform now retails for $169.99 in the U.S.

However, whether or not Nintendo is ready to simply base its future in the portable space on the 3DS remains to be seen. 01net also reported yesterday that Nintendo could be working on a new portable that would ditch 3D and feature a new name. The device, the site claims, could launch next year. However, in an update to its story, 01net said that its sources' reliability on that claim could not be verified.

Regardless of what Nintendo has planned for the 3DS, it's clear that something needs to be done. For months now, CEO Satoru Iwata has been saying that Nintendo is working to find the sweet spot to appeal to customers who can't quite see the value of 3D.

"The value of 3D images without the need for special glasses is hard to be understood through the existing media," Iwata said during a financial results briefing in April. "However, we have found that people cannot feel it just by trying out a device, rather, some might even misestimate it when experiencing the images in an improper fashion. This makes it more important to give people more opportunities for appropriate experiences of glassless 3D images.

"There is no easy road to making people understand the attraction of glassless 3D images and making Nintendo 3DS widespread," Iwata continued.

Nintendo did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.