Sony will compensate early adopters of its PlayStation Vita to settle a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission over ads for the portable game machine that were deemed misleading to consumers.
The FTC and Sony Computer Entertainment America announced the proposed settlement today, which will see Sony give consumers who purchased a Vita before June 1, 2012, either $25 in cash or credit as a refund or a $50 merchandise voucher for "select video games, and/or services." Sony is also barred from making similarly misleading advertising claims, according to a joint release.
The settlements stems from charges that Sony "deceived consumers with false advertising claims" about the PS Vita's "game changing" features during the system's U.S. launch campaign in late 2011 and early 2012.
According to the FTC's complaint (PDF), early Vita ads falsely advertised the system's remote play, cross platform and cross save features.
"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 says. "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. 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 ads also misrepresented the 3G network capabilities of the Vita by implying they could be used for real-time multiplayer gaming.
The FTC's complaint about the Vita ads extends to Sony's advertising company, Deutsch LA (PDF). The commission said Deutsch LA similarly mislead consumers about the cross-platform and 3G features of the Vita in ads it created for Sony. The FTC also slammed Deutsch for posting "deceptive product endorsements" to Twitter, when the company directed employees to post positive tweets using the "#gamechanger" hashtag on their personal social media accounts.
Sony is required to send email notifications to "all consumers it can reasonably identify as having bought a PS Vita before June 1, 2012" as part of the settlement.