Original PS Vita Ads Were Misleading, US Government Agency Says

Sony to refund gamers as much as $50 as part of Federal Trade Commission settlement terms.

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The Federal Trade Commission announced today that Sony Computer Entertainment America will settle false advertising claims related to the technical abilities of the PlayStation Vita. The ads in question date back to the portable's US launch campaign in late 2011 and early 2012, and have to do with the Vita's Remote Play, cross-platform, and cross-save features (see below).

As part of Sony's settlement with the FTC, the PlayStation company is prohibited from making similarly misleading claims going forward, and it must refund affected gamers. Under the terms of the settlement, anyone who bought a Vita before June 1, 2012 will be eligible for a $25 cash or credit refund, or a $50 merchandise voucher for PlayStation games and services.

"The FTC will not hesitate to act on behalf of consumers when companies or advertisers make false product claims" -- FTC director Jessica Rich

If that's you, you don't need to take any action, as Sony will send emails to eligible consumers after the FTC and Sony officially complete their settlement. The FTC said in a statement that it's important to hold companies accountable for the claims they make in advertising.

"As we enter the year's biggest shopping period, companies need to be reminded that if they make product promises to consumers--as Sony did with the 'game changing' features of its PS Vita--they must deliver on those pledges," FTC director of consumer protection Jessica Rich said in a statement. "The FTC will not hesitate to act on behalf of consumers when companies or advertisers make false product claims."

According to the FTC's complaint, Sony claimed the Vita would "revolutionize gaming mobility" by allowing users to enjoy PlayStation 3 titles using Remote Play and take advantage of cross-platform play and cross-saves. But the FTC concluded that these assertions were misleading.

Killzone 3
Killzone 3

"Sony claimed, for example, that PS Vita users could pause any PS3 game at any time and continue to play the game on their PS Vita from where they left off," the FTC said. "This feature, however, was only available for a few PS3 games, and the pause-and-save capability described in the ads varied significantly from game to game."

"For example, with respect to MLB 12: The Show, consumers could only save the game to the PS Vita after finishing the entire nine-inning game on their PS3," it goes on. "In addition, Sony failed to inform consumers that to use this feature, purchasers had to buy two versions of the same game--one for their PS3 and one for the PS Vita."

The FTC's complaint further alleges that Vita ads falsely stated that gamers who owned a 3G Vita could take advantage of online multiplayer over the network, when in fact this is not true. The complaint goes on to say that Vita ads falsely informed gamers about the extent of Remote Play support for PS3 games.

"Sony also misled consumers by falsely claiming that PS Vita users could remotely play the popular PS3 game, Killzone 3, on the PS Vita," the FTC said. "In fact, Sony never enabled Remote Play on its Killzone 3 game title, and very few, if any, PS3 games of similar size and complexity were remote playable on the PS Vita."

The FTC has also filed a complaint against the advertising firm behind the Vita ads, Deutsch LA, saying the company is also responsible for misleading consumers through the ad campaign.

GameSpot has reached out to PlayStation for comment and will update this story with anything we hear back.

For more on this case, check out the FTC's full complaints against Sony and Deutsch LA.

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