Rumor: Sony cuts NGP specs in response to 3DS

Sony has reportedly scaled back the power of its upcoming handheld system after Nintendo’s 3DS has failed to meet sales expectations.

In addition to its admittedly lackluster launch game lineup, the 3DS’s high price point is likely to blame for the device’s sluggish rate of sales. At $250, it is the most expensive handheld system Nintendo has ever launched.

Perhaps consumers just aren’t ready to drop a whole lot of money for a portable game device. And it seems like Sony may be heeding that advice.

According to French website 01net, Sony will be cutting the specs of its impending NGP device, the successor to the PSP. The basic, non-3G version of the NGP will now apparently have 256 MB of RAM as opposed to the originally reported 512 MB. The VRAM has also been halved, from 256 MB to 128 MB, 01net reports.

The French site was the first to reveal the code-name of Nintendo’s next console, Project Cafe, so their sources can be taken with more than just a grain of salt.

None of the NGP’s technical specs were set in stone, and the device is still in the research and development stages, so any sort of hardware changes at this point are just part of that development process. Nevertheless, it does look like the NGP won’t be as powerful as it might have been in different cicrcumstances.

01net also debunks speculation that the NGP will not come out in the US by the end of 2011. Sony originally announced an end-of-year release target for the device, but the massive earthquakes in Japan put those plans into question. It appears, though, that Sony may still be able to meet that original goal.

We’re likely to find out the official details of the device at Sony’s E3 press conference on June 6.